Content provided by the GBS Health & Wellness Team
From the Dietitian’s Desk
With Becca Rick, MS, RD
Budgeting for food while also striving to eat healthy may seem like two opposing goals. Consider these helpful tips for eating healthy without breaking the bank:
- Cook in bulk and portion leftovers for meals during the week; this will save time and money spent on going out to lunch.
- Plan a weekly menu and create a shopping list before heading to the grocery store.
- Take note of what you are throwing away – this is a helpful indication of overbuying.
- Focus on the bigger picture: sometimes healthy products, like fresh produce or whole grains, are going to be accessible and fit into the budget, sometimes they will not. Managing finances while also pursuing optimal health can be challenging – be proud of the efforts you are making.
There is plenty of confusing information out there about nutrition and diet. Look at these common misconceptions surrounding healthy eating and notice how clearing them up can help improve health and save money:
Myth: Frozen produce is not as healthy as fresh produce.
Fact: Frozen fruits and veggies are just as, if not more, nutritious than fresh produce. Frozen or canned produce is processed immediately after harvesting so the nutrient content is well-preserved, while fresh produce may lose a small amount of nutrients during time spent on the shelf. Take comfort in opting for frozen produce as it will pack in the nutrients and can be easier on the wallet.
Myth: Eating nutritious food is always more expensive.
Fact: In some ways, this myth is true when thinking only of day-to-day expenses. Research from Harvard School of Public Health found that a nutritious diet pattern – rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, and whole grains – costs on average about $1.50 more per day than a less nutritious diet rich in processed foods and refined grains. It is important to recognize that eating highly nutritious foods does come with privilege, though making an effort to do so can also pay back in others ways, including decreased medical expenses, less risk of developing chronic disease, and overall increased quality of life.
Myth: Meat should be included with every meal.
Fact: Many of the nutrients in meat can also be found in plant sources, such as nuts, beans, vegetables, and lentils. These serve as a sustainable, environmentally friendly source of protein. Plus, plant-based protein sources are typically more affordable than meat options. While meat can still be enjoyed, it is nutritionally and environmentally safe and even recommended to opt for plant-based protein sources at least one day a week.
Myth: Organic foods are more nutritious than non-organic options.
Fact: The nutritional content of organic compared to conventionally grown foods are the same; no need to worry about choosing one over the other when trying to eat healthier. The major difference is that organic options are more environmentally friendly, so if there is room in the budget, consider opting for organic foods as a sustainability effort.