By Rebecca Pratt
Needless to say that we’re living the most difficult time of our lives, but when it comes to protecting our body, we can’t afford to slack off. Millions of Americans are living day by day, not knowing what tomorrow has in store for them. It’s hard to think about eating healthy when you are on a tight budget. However, experts like Rebecca Pratt say there is still the possibility of keeping up with a healthy lifestyle even in the worst circumstances. So before you start indulging yourself into the eat-what-I-can habit, take some of her advice below:
Stock your fridge and cupboards with items that are quick and easy to cook (yet kind to your
· Beans and lentils, whether canned or dried, make nutritious, hearty soups, and can be a main course with the addition of fresh vegetables or rice.
· Brown Rice is a great addition to leftover meat and veggies. Although brown rice is slightly more expensive than white, the nutritional payoff is well worth it. Another inexpensive, easy-to-fix grain, millet, is best when bought fresh. Simply rinse and toast before using it in recipes.
· Pasta, likewise, is quick and easy to prepare, and can be paired with veggies, meat, or a fresh salad. Have fun adding your own embellishments (mushrooms, spices, and herbs.) Choose whole-wheat pasta whenever available.
· Soups can’t be beat for nutrition and convenience, especially since you can use canned or packet soups as your base, then add your own veggies and leftover meat. Again, try to experiment, adding your own herbs and spices.
· Fresh vegetables and fruit should be bought at least once or twice each week, preferably in season, to ensure optimal taste and nutrition. You can also rely on canned/frozen varieties as handy additions to last-minute meals. Veggies make great stir-fries and vegetable patties, while fruit is good for a quick nutritious snack.
· Meat and fish can be kept on hand also for last-minute meals— try the newer tuna and salmon pouches, and shop for inexpensive cuts of meat that work well in stews and casseroles.
· Condiments add flavor and interest to your dishes. Keep a selection of dried herbs, spices, curry powder, marinades, vinegars, tomato and soy sauces, along with stock cubes, in your cupboard. Experiment with the new, such as Japanese miso, an aged salty condiment made from soybeans and various other ingredients (found in the natural foods section, usually refrigerated).
Finally, a few more hints that can help you save a little green:
· When cooking a big meal, make extra to freeze, or use later in the week for lunches or quick suppers. Double recipes, then freeze half.
· Save your vegetable trimmings to make your own vegetable stock. Not only do you save money, but vegetable stock also makes a nutritious base for casseroles, soups, and Crockpot cooking.
· Buying in bulk is almost always cheaper; you can freeze perishable items (such as meat, milk, and even bread) in smaller portions to use as needed. It’s always a good idea to buy non-perishable items in bulk (canned foods, dried beans and grains, etc.).
· Use less expensive cuts of meat for casseroles that you slow cook; add extra vegetables and beans to make the meal go further.
· Capitalize on one-pot dishes, which generally save prep time, money, and dishwashing, and often make great leftovers.
· Look high and low (literally) to find the less expensive generic or store brands on grocery shelves, often very similar to higher-priced brand names though packaged under different labels. Stores deliberately place the highest-priced brand-name items at eye level, but if you compare the cost per unit, you’ll be able to figure out the most cost-effective purchase. You can even try your own taste tests— blind, of course— to see where you can save money without sacrificing flavor.
· Take advantage of specials on staples—broth, soups, pasta, rice, canned veggies, even bread and meat. Many of these items have a long shelf life or can be frozen for short periods of time.
· Limit your dining out, especially when it comes to fast food, since you’ll find yourself spending unnecessarily on items that are high in fat, salt, and calories, which short-change you in the nutrition department.
There’s no magic formula to cooking on a budget. Like anything else worthwhile in life, it takes a little planning, creativity, and work. But if you think of the rewards—better health and more money—you’ll find it’s worth the effort. No doubt you’ll still have days when you fall back on that quick-fix packaged food or the local burger drive-thru. But if you look at cooking as an adventure, you’ll also have days when you find yourself pleased at what you’ve accomplished—as you serve dinner to rave reviews from family and friends!
Note: This advice were taken from www.sparkpeople.com
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