Eating Healthy on a Budget - CLG at IHouse

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Triveni Raghavan
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Written by: Triveni Raghavan

Do you enjoy grocery shopping - getting lost in the maze of various aisles, trying to decide what to buy - fresh or frozen produce, generic or name brand, organic or not, wondering if healthy means expensive? No? I thought so. At this week’s CLG, hosted by Seun Bello Olamosu of IHouse, Duke Student Health Dietitian Toni Ann Apadula answered all these questions and also gave us the perfect recipe for a healthy, delicious meal on a budget.

Balancing your Plate
It is always good to start with a plan. Establish a budget, plan your meals and snacks for the week, and remember:  
½ of your plate should be fruits & vegetables – for vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber & carbohydrates
¼ of your plate should be grains – for fiber, B vitamins and carbohydrates
¼ of your plate should be protein – for protein, fats and iron
Healthy Fats – for essential fats to enable the body to work properly.

Then make a grocery list. Be sure to check out the store’s ‘Weekly ad’ for what’s on sale, look for digital / printable coupons and at the store, ask about a loyalty card. Seems quite simple, doesn’t it? Let’s go grocery shopping!
Shopping Strategies – What are your options?

Fruits and Vegetables: Try to make your selection as colorful as possible – it is not just for looks but to get the full spectrum of health benefits. You could choose between Fresh produce which is most expensive vs Frozen which is not so pricey, nutrition content is intact and has longer shelf/freezer life vs Canned which is least expensive, but may contain more salt that can be reduced by rinsing. If you are not able to decide whether to buy Organic, the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” gives you some help. Fruits & vegetables are freshest and taste best when they are bought in season (www.ncagr.gov/markets/availabilitychart.pdf).

Grains: Try to choose whole grains. You could pick Name brand which is more expensive vs Store brand which costs less, but usually tastes the same and may have the same ingredients as name brand.

Protein Foods: Try to choose a leaner option. You could buy Animal protein which are most expensive, provide “complete protein” but contain more fat vs Dairy / Nut based protein, which are not so expensive vs Plant based protein / eggs which are least expensive and contain low fat & more fiber.

Is your shopping cart almost full? Before rushing to the billing counter, let me add a few more tips from Toni, as garnish.

Unit price – Compare unit price per lb/oz of various sizes. Larger sizes are often a better buy.
Nutrition facts – This label tells you the % Daily Value of various nutrients in each serving.
Ingredients – The ingredients are listed from most to least. So, if the first ingredient is salt, then you may be in a pickle.

Psst! – Stores stock most expensive items at eye level; so look at higher and lower shelves.

There was never a dull moment. It was amazing to see the active involvement of the participants, asking the most perceptive and interesting questions, and Toni’s patient and informative responses. If you have an appetite for more, try chewing on this.


 

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