HEALTHY LIVING: Eating healthy on a tight budget

Published 9:52 pm Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Have you seen the statement making the rounds on social media? “Why do chicken nuggets cost $1.99 and a salad costs $8? Not really an exaggeration. It does seem you can buy high fat, high sodium, high sugar foods cheaper than healthy foods.

Let’s explore some ways to make better food choices on a tight budget. You are going to need some freezer space available. If you have a freezer that is full, start by cleaning it out. How long has that food been in there? What are you saving it for? Think of freezer space as real estate, make it productive.

1. Buy fresh produce when it’s in season and freeze it. Fresh produce is always great, but the cost can add up fast. Stick with buying what’s currently in season, and consider stocking up when you find a good deal.

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2. Look for sales and plan meals accordingly. If your local grocery store offers a savings card be sure to sign up, and check the weekly circular to see what’s on sale. Instead of shopping for groceries based on your weekly meal plan, consider planning your meals around what’s on sale.

3. Try less expensive cuts of meat. You can still enjoy meat, even when you’re on a tight budget. Look for less expensive cuts of meat, like chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts, and try different cooking methods, like the slow cooker, to make tougher cuts of meat tender and juicy.

4. Embrace whole grains and beans. Beans and whole grains, like quinoa, freekeh and brown rice are an inexpensive and tasty way to bulk up meals, and can even be a meal in themselves.

5. Plan and prep meals ahead. Whether it’s veggies for the week, tomorrow’s breakfast, lunches or dinners, prepping food in advance is a step in the right direction towards eating healthy. Plus, it’s also a good way to make sure you’re eating what’s in the fridge, to minimize waste.

6. Broaden your culinary horizons! Cuisines, like Mexican and Indian, rely heavily on inexpensive ingredients, like beans and rice(use brown rather than white).

7. Keep an organized fridge and pantry. Leftovers are always great, but it totally defeats the purpose if they get lost in the back of the fridge. Label leftovers and keep your fridge organized to help minimize food waste.

8. Repurpose leftovers. If you don’t like eating the same meal over and over, consider repurposing leftovers into an entirely new and delicious meal.

9. Go to the farmers market at the end of the day. Depending on where you live, farmers markets may or may not save you money during regular hours. Consider visiting the market at the end of the day, when you could very likely score some great deals.

10. Shop at ethnic markets. Consider checking out local ethnic markets. Not only are you likely to find a bargain on certain products, you’ll also find some really interesting ingredients.

Don’t be afraid to try something new, a new to you food, a new way of preparing a food, think outside the box.

It is possible to enjoy healthy eating on a budget.

Contact Jody Holton with your questions, comments, or suggestions for future columns at