Everyone has been feeling the effects of inflation and increased prices recently. Basically every time I go to the store one of the usual items on my grocery list has a higher price tag than it did the time before.
High grocery costs can make healthy eating feel more daunting, and many people report cost being one of the reasons they don’t make healthier eating choices. However, if it's done the right way, healthy eating does not have to be expensive. In fact, some healthier choices can actually save you money. Here are three ideas of ways you can adjust your diet to make it more healthy and more affordable.
1. Eat potatoes
Potatoes are very versatile and nutrient dense, and they are also cheap. Depending on where you shop, you can get 10 pounds of potatoes for $5 or less.
Potatoes can be eaten in many different ways, which is partly what makes them so great. They can be made into hash browns or homemade fries, or baked and topped with something like chili or a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. They also fit well in soups, in a slow cooker with some meat and veggies, or roasted with veggies on a sheet pan (one of my personal favorites!). I like to grate leftover baked potatoes into breakfast burritos, which gives them more substance and makes it so I don’t need to add so many eggs. Our family eats potatoes in one form or another every day of the week.
One potato has 4 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and a variety of vitamins and minerals, including a high amount of potassium. Potatoes are a high carb food, but, contrary to popular beliefs and fad diets, our bodies need carbohydrates for fuel, and most people do best getting about 45-65% of their total calories from carbohydrates. A whole plant food, like a potato, is a much better option than processed high carb foods commonly eaten, such as white bread, white pasta, white rice, and refined grain cereals. As long as your diet is balanced and you are pairing that potato with other healthy foods, your body will love those carbs.
2. Replace some of your animal protein with plant protein
Pound to pound, animal products such as meat, poultry, cheese, and eggs are usually more expensive than plant foods that are high in protein, such as peanut butter, beans and quinoa. Eating a more plant based diet also has many health benefits. Reducing animal product consumption and increasing plant protein is not only a good idea for your budget and your health, but also for the environment since plant foods are much more sustainable.
To get more plant protein into your diet, try out some bean burgers, vegan taco soup, meatless taco salad, or top your salad with chickpeas instead of chicken. A quick google search for recipes yields lots of tasty results. I’ve learned that when a recipe calls for meat and beans, I can easily replace some or all of the meat with more beans and have it still taste delicious! Try having peanut butter with your toast or hummus with your crackers. You don’t have to be a vegan and cut out all animal products if you don’t want to. But replacing some of them with plants will create a nice little dent in your grocery budget, and you’ll likely feel better, too.
3. Have hot cereal for breakfast instead of cold cereal
Cold cereal, the most common breakfast choice in America, is usually highly processed and contains things like refined sugars, preservatives, and sometimes artificial dyes. A simple switch to whole grain hot cereals can help your budget, and improve your health. You can make your own oatmeal from quick oats, or get a whole grain cereal in a box, like Malt-O-Meal original. Making your own cereal allows you to choose a natural sweetener like honey, stevia, or fruit that is chopped or pureed. Cooked quinoa or brown rice topped with milk and a drizzle of honey also make a delicious, healthy breakfast. Buying your cereal grain in bulk makes it even less costly.
One of the great things about hot cereal is how versatile it is; you can get creative with it. You can top it with fruit, nuts, seeds, or have a nut butter on the side to make it more delicious and nutritiously diverse. One tablespoon of flaxseed mixed in with your oatmeal, for example, could provide your diet with your entire daily value of omega-3 fatty acids.
It’s easy to stay in our grocery shopping habits and eat the same things each day. But with a little creativity, some simple changes can provide your budget with some relief and help you feel better, too.
Author: Hannah Clements
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