Cooking with Marlene Koch

10 Ways to Eat Well
...even on a budget!

In lean economic times we are all looking to save a bit of money. With food as the second largest expense for most of us, finding ways to save money, while eating healthy and good tasting foods, is easier to do than one may think. Trips to expensive restaurants are down and pasta sales are heating up, but when what you eat is an integral part of your health, how you shave pennies matters.

Relying on starchy comfort food, inexpensive fast food or whatever happens to be on sale may be lighter on the wallet, but it can take a heavy toll on your health, especially when you have diabetes. Fortunately there are plenty of ways to eat healthy without breaking the bank.

Here are ten ways to shop for nutritious, delicious food – on a budget:

  1. Plan ahead. Look at your menu plan. Check your cupboards and then local markets' weekly ads to determine what's on sale (weekly grocery ads for most stores can also be found on their websites or deals can be found at online coupon sites). Then make a grocery list and stick to it!
  2. Buy seasonal. Fruits and vegetables are an important part of your diet, but when out of season they can be costly. Spring is great for strawberries and asparagus, summer for blueberries and summer squash. Not only will you be saving money you will be enjoying fruits and vegetables at their freshest.
  3. Make friends with the freezer case. When what you desire is out of season, check the freezer case. Flash-frozen fruits, vegetables, and fish, are of high quality and can be even more nutritious than "fresh".
  4. Go generic. Store brands are often made by the same manufacturers as the name brands you love and the savings can be substantial. (Or clip and use coupons for your favorite brands)
  5. Dump the junk and save. Now, if you have not done so already, is a great time to dump the cookies, crackers, chips and other heavily packaged foods in favor of whole foods.
  6. Avoid packaged drinks. Milk and water (it's free) are two of the healthier beverages you can have in your diet. Packaged drinks, even diet, are a costly expense and provide little nutritional value.
  7. Look to beans. Beans can be used as a great meat extender or alone with non-starchy vegetables to create wholesome high-fiber meals. Remember to read the labels and count the carbs (Subtract one-half of the fiber from the carbohydrates to get to the net carbs).
  8. Buy leaner cuts of meat. Your heart and your wallet will thank you. Marinades and slow cookers can bring the best out of less marbled meats.
  9. Buy in bulk (especially when staples are on sale). With their long shelf lives, canned foods and paper goods are no brainers. Other goods such as fresh foods can be portioned (e.g., frozen) if necessary when you get home.
  10. Shop the local farmers market. Nothing is better than fresh and the elimination of overhead is a sweet savings for you.

Here is an old-fashioned budget-minded favorite recipe updated for today's healthier times. Enjoy!

Marlene Koch, RD, is a registered dietitian who has specialized in delicious food and healthy lifestyles for over twenty years. Marlene holds a degree in Nutritional Science from the University of Los Angeles, California. Marlene is a best-selling author of healthy, low-sugar cookbooks. Marlene is a frequent guest on TV, radio and websites such as iVillage and dlife.com.
Read more about Marlene Koch

The goal of Destination Diabetes is to be a useful and credible resource for the more than 20 million children and adults who have diabetes in the U.S. and their families. Destination Diabetes provides information on a wide range of diabetes health and wellness topics. Articles are written or reviewed by diabetes advisors who have experience in diabetes education.