You may have heard the saying “We are what we eat” and largely it’s true. Eating a balanced diet of lean proteins, whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables, low in sodium and added sugars, will help lower your risk of life-threatening illnesses like obesity, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. But, aren’t those foods expensive?

The good news: Eating healthy does not necessarily mean spending a lot of money. With a little effort, planning and a few smart choices, you can feed yourself and your family good, nutritious food while staying within your family budget.

Here’s how:

  1. Plan your meals, and don’t shop hungry. Plan a week’s meals in advance, make a shopping list and stick to it. If you shop while you are hungry, you are more likely to make impulse purchases. Always shop on a full stomach.
  2. Buy whole foods. Buying whole foods (oats, brown rice, whole grains and beans), often sold in bulk, are less processed (better for you) and cost less than their processed counterparts.
  3. Stop buying processed food. Most packaged foods are loaded with added salt and sugar. Instead of sugary packaged cereal, buy oats. Make your own homemade spaghetti sauce, salad dressings and nut butter.
  4. Cook at home. Dining out can be expensive, and you are not in control of ingredients. Make dining out a special occasion. Instead, learn a few healthy recipes, and add to them over time. Cook large portions for leftovers.
  5. Pack your lunch. Taking your lunch is cheaper and can be more nutritious. Do not let those leftovers go to waste!
  6. Eat seasonal. Fruits and veggies that are “in season” taste better and cost less. Brussels sprouts and carrots in the winter. Bananas and broccoli in the spring. Beets and berries in the summer. You can buy fresh produce when it is in season, and freeze it for use later.
  7. Buy local. A local farmer’s market is a great place to find seasonal produce. Visit the market towards the end of the day, when the vendors want to sell their remaining inventory. You might find some deals.
  8. Buy frozen fruits and vegetables. Instead of buying fresh fruit, buy frozen and save money. Some produce, when frozen at the peak of freshness, is actually more nutritious than the fruit in the produce department. And, frozen produce never goes to waste.
  9. Buy less expensive cuts of meat. Save steak and salmon for special occasions. For every day, buy chicken thighs or whole chickens instead of breasts. Cook with lean (90% or leaner) ground beef. Ask your butcher about leaner and less expensive cuts of beef, like beef shank (also known as beef shin) instead of short rib, and chuck steak instead of ribeye.
  10. Consider other sources of protein. Meat poultry and seafood can be expensive. Consider non-animal sources of protein, like eggs, soy milk, Greek yogurt and cottage cheese. Or lentils, grains, chickpeas, seeds and beans. Quinoa is packed with protein, and is a great source of vitamins and minerals.

By arming yourself with knowledge, and with a little planning ahead, you can eat well and save money. And in doing so, you will reduce your (and your family’s) risk of serious health conditions, including heart disease.

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