Yes, you can eat healthfully on a budget

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Healthy eating on a budget. Can it be done?

In today’s economy many families are concerned about the rising cost of food. Now granted it is cheaper to buy 1,000 calories of a sugary cereal than it costs for 1,000 calories of fresh veggies. And if you are on a budget trying to support yourself and your family it might just be easier to choose a pre-packaged avocado — and who knows what is in that — as opposed to a fresh one .

The health food industry has grown in the past 10 years and I am sure there are companies looking to profit from products they can boast as healthful. That, plus news articles reporting that a healthful diet can be expensive, is enough to frustrate anyone.

There is no doubt we live in a broken food culture where government subsidies support the production of cheap, low-quality foods. Let’s face it, it’s not always easy to go into a store and buy vegetables and fruits when there are isles of foods that are chemically manufactured and come in eye-catching packages.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t make better food choices and still eat healthfully on a budget. You probably will need to change a few habits and set priorities, but in the long run it will be worth it.

Following are a few tips for eating more healthfully when you have a budget to follow. If you stick with them you might find that eating healthfully is easier and cheaper then you thought.

Make your food budget go further — This has become easier due to the Internet. There are now online grocery stores. By shopping online it can help you stick to a budget as well as help cut out impulse buying. Also, you can join a local wholesale “club” like Costco so you can take advantage of the discounted prices.

Eat before you go shopping — Going to the grocery store on an empty stomach can lead to impulse buying. But by shopping on a full stomach you tend to stick to buying only what is on your grocery list.

Grow your own food — Not only will you save on vegetables but you’ll stay active and get some regular exercise as a bonus.

Scout the local paper — Look for coupons in your local newspaper. Your savings will more than likely exceed the cost of buying the paper.

Make your own pre-packaged snacks — By buying your own ingredients like raisins, unsalted nuts and other dried fruits, you can separate them into individual portions yourself from the nutrition facts on the label. This will allow you to more closely gauge the fat, salt and sugar content and have a better control of your portion size.

Plan your meals each week — By planning meals in advance you can check the nutrition facts of the meal before you make it and create a detailed grocery list to make shopping easier.

Following some or all of these tips can help you eat more healthfully on a budget.

That can lead to more energy, and you may even see your mood, memory and cognitive functions improve as well. So start eating better for a happier and healthier you.

Juan Sanchez is a personal trainer and program director at the Walla Walla YMCA. He can be reached at jsanchez@wwymca.org.

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