Scrimp, Save, But Still Eat Healthy

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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Eating healthy should not be placed on the back burner during tight economic times when money, stress and busy schedules all come into play, according to an expert in nutrition at The Ohio State University Medical Center.

Shirley Kindrick says cutting corners to save money is a natural reaction when finances are short, but healthy eating is still possible—and even more important.

"Selecting healthy food items is always important, but in an economy where money may be in short supply, families are under stress and people may be working longer hours or two jobs – a good diet is the basic foundation for staying healthy," said Kindrick, a registered dietitian in the Medical Center's Comprehensive Weight Management Program.

With food prices at new highs, Kindrick said there are plenty of low-cost and highly nutritious foods and methods to prepare dishes that can stretch budgets while making them healthy.

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Serving smaller portions of meat not only saves money, but also benefits the average diet. "The recommended single portion size for most meat is a piece about the size of a deck of cards," said Kindrick. "Most people eat much bigger portions, and they really don't need it."

Adding tomato products to meat dishes not only extends the number of servings and provides a robust flavor, but Ohio State researchers have found that tomatoes also have anti-cancer properties. "Tomatoes are healthy, they aren't costly and they're usually readily available fresh, canned and frozen, so they provide a real value."

Despite their lower costs, processed foods shouldn't have a place at most kitchen tables, according to Kindrick. "They can be faster to prepare and easy to pack for school or work lunches, but they are often very high in sodium, sugar and/or fat and they don't give you the nutrients you need for good health," she said. "If you're already stressed, poor eating habits are only going to complicate matters and over time put you in a potentially higher risk group for illness."

Kindrick suggests incorporating carrots, broccoli and other vegetables into pasta dishes to add nutritional value, increase the number of servings and provide meals the following day.

Using generic food brands is another method to save money without jeopardizing taste or nutrition. "Most of the time the generic brands are identical to the national brands except in packaging," added Kindrick.

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