Healthy Eating on a Budget: 5 Tips for Nutritious Living

We’ve got tips for eating healthy on a budget, as well as recipes from the United Dairy Industry of Michigan/Milk Means More.

It’s time to celebrate the new year! However, the holidays can leave you feeling like you have a dent in your wallet. Most of us have also overindulged in rich foods. Healthy eating on a budget is one way to start the year off right.

It’s true that grocery prices have skyrocketed. But with a little planning and creativity, you can embrace a healthier lifestyle without breaking the bank. To sweeten the deal, we’ve even curated some delicious and nutritious recipes from the United Dairy Industry of Michigan/Milk Means More.

Check out these practical tips, then try the recipes that follow!

1. Make cooking a priority

Cooking allows you to control the ingredients, making for healthier, more economical meals.

Love your leftovers: Prepare larger meals with leftovers in mind. You’ll thank yourself later on busy days when all you need to do is reheat a delicious meal. Also, leftover meats, pasta, rice or vegetables can be used in a different recipe the next day.

Don’t forget about freezing: Freezing single servings or large batches of healthy meals gives you options. You will have work lunches or full meals on those days when you’re busy, tired or just plain don’t feel like cooking. 

Make family-friendly meals: You’ll save money and promote a healthy lifestyle for everyone in your family by preparing the same nutritious meals for all. Plus, you’ll help instill good eating habits from an early age.

Keep it simple: Cooking doesn’t have to be complicated. Simple meals are delicious and usually healthier.

2. Be open to new recipes

Set aside some time to research and cook new recipes. Get the family involved! You may find some new family faves that are both healthy and cost-effective.

Go online: No matter your skill level, time constraints and budgets, the internet will have something for you! Many sites offer user reviews to help you make choices and even recipe modifications. If you haven’t already, check out the many recipes available at MilkMeansMore.org. To help get you started, check out the recipes at the end of this article.

Revamp veggie recipes: Nutritious vegetables can be a lot more exciting when you try some new recipes. Seasonal produce is a great place to start. 

Tips for Nutritious Living

3. Use smart ingredient swaps

A few simple swaps are healthier and often cheaper.

Salad dressing savvy: Opt for healthier salad dressing alternatives. Swap olive oil and vinegar for salads, low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream and mustard in place of mayonnaise.

Spice it up: Spices can be your secret weapon. They add flavor without piling on unnecessary calories, making your meals both delicious and healthy. 

Consider nutrition: Proteins, whole grains, low-fat dairy and fresh produce can be used to make simple, healthy and budget-friendly swaps for various foods.  

4. Up your grocery store game

Before heading to the store, take stock of items in your freezer, cabinets and refrigerator. Incorporate these ingredients into your meal planning to save money.

Have a meal plan and a grocery list: Write out your meals for the week and create a comprehensive grocery list. Organize the list by store section to keep you organized. 

Buy a mix of fresh, frozen, and shelf-stable items: Plan your meals with a mix of fresh, frozen and shelf-stable items. Fresh produce in season is usually much cheaper than non-seasonal fruits and vegetables. Use fresh produce first and stock up on items like canned goods or frozen foods that can be stored for later use. 

Don’t shop hungry: If you’re starving, it’s tempting to overspend and pick up all the wrong foods.

5. Take advantage of store savings

A little planning can equal significant savings at the store.

Research your options: Do some shopping around and ask for recommendations from friends and family. Grocery stores, specialty markets, dollar stores, retail supercenters and wholesale clubs may offer hidden gems.

Stay alert for sales: Discounts, sales and deals are there if you know where to look. Many stores offer weekly specials. Be sure to join store loyalty programs for exclusive offers and discounts.

Buy in bulk: Always check the price per unit on the foods you buy at the store – you may be surprised at how much you can save! Usually the price per unit is less if you buy larger amounts. If you can get a deal on meat or cheese, you can buy the item on sale and freeze the rest until you need to use it.

Recipes from Milk Means More

Parmesan Cottage Cheese Pasta with Broccoli: Try whole grain pasta or protein-fortified pasta for even more nutrition.

Quick Chicken Curry: Make your own healthy takeout with this fast and easy chicken curry the family will love.

Tuna Zucchini Cakes with Garlic Lemon Aioli: Budget-friendly canned tuna is the basis for this family dish with a healthy twist. Instead of mayo, the garlic aioli is made with low-fat yogurt.

Lentil Tacos with Tangy Guacamole: Meatless Monday or Taco Tuesday: your choice! Look for avocados on sale for the guac.

Potato Cakes with Spinach and Cheese: Turn leftover mashed potatoes into a nutrition-packed main dish. Frozen spinach works well and is economical, too.

Baked Chicken Parmesan: A warming family favorite that is baked instead of fried for a healthier option. Make two and freeze one for a delicious meal when you’re too busy to cook.

For more information and recipes, visit milkmeansmore.org. To learn more about kids and nutrition, visit metroparent.com/how-to-get-kids-to-eat-healthy 

Jenny Kales
Jenny Kales
Content editor Jenny Kales has been in the business of writing for more than 20 years. A natural storyteller, she loves helping Metro Parent clients tell their stories in a way that resonates with their audiences.

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