In these uncertain financial times, we're all watching how much we spend on food a little more closely, and it may seem that it's nearly impossible to eat a healthy diet on a tight budget. There's no question that many of the least expensive foods -- like starchy foods, sugars, and fats -- are also the ones that provide less nutrition than the more expensive items like fruits, vegetables, and healthy sources of protein. But eating well and saving money can go hand-in-hand.
Here are some tips to get you started from nutrition experts at Herbalife:
-- Go vegetarian once a week. Combining grains, like rice or corn, with beans, split peas, or lentils, is an inexpensive way to include good quality protein in the diet. Use seasoning to enhance the flavor in dishes like curried lentils with brown rice or spicy black bean soup with cornbread or corn tortillas. Round out the menu with a salad or some fruit in season, and you've got a nutrition-packed meal for pennies per person.
-- Skip the drive-through. A protein-packed meal replacement shake like Herbalife(R) Formula 1 Nutritional Shake Mix, mixed in the blender with milk (or soy milk) and fresh or frozen fruit, can provide more healthy nutrition for a lot less money than fast food choices--while still delivering convenience and nutritional value.
-- Freeze the season. Frozen fruits and vegetables are as nutritionally valuable as fresh--in fact, in some cases freezing may preserve more nutrients because the foods are processed so quickly after harvest. Shop the farmer's markets, buy what's in season, and freeze it. Frozen pre-made side dishes and vegetables with sauces on them cost more, too. It's less expensive and better for you to purchase plain vegetables and season them yourself.
-- Frozen meals are convenient, but they can be pricey. And, these meals often don't feel complete unless you add a salad, vegetable or fruit to them, which drives up the total cost of the meal. Instead, cook in bulk some one-dish meals, such as soups, stews, or pasta dishes, and freeze individual portions for workday lunches.
Don't let a thinner wallet lead to a thicker waistline. With a little planning, you can watch your budget and still eat well.