Eating Right When the Budgets Tight!
People with SCI are at risk of developing a host of serious, debilitating and potentially life threatening secondary health complications. A nutritious diet can help prevent and/or manage many of these conditions, however with more than 60% of people with SCI unemployed, finding ways to eat well can be a challenge. Instead of a recipe this edition, I’m sharing 10 tips on how to get healthy foods into your diet and stay within your budget:
1. Make a weekly plan
Plan meals for the week. This will avoid excess buying and enable you to budget your meals.
Create a list – and stick to it.
Collet coupons, check out weekly grocery flyers and buy items on sale.
Do not shop hungry.
Cook more and eat out less- you’ll be surprised on how much money you can save.
2. Eat Whole Foods
Many nutritious whole foods like fruits, vegetables legumes and whole grains, cost less than things like fast food, chips, cookies, chocolate and pop. Grabbing quick, convenient fast foods may fill you up, but these foods are often void of nutrients and fiber and loaded with salt, sugar, additives, preservatives and bad fats contributing to common SCI secondary health complications such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Take a pass on prepared foods, pre-cut fruits and vegetables, frozen meals and/or vegetables in sauces. These foods may save you time, but they also cost more.
Nutrient dense whole foods like nuts/seeds and whole grains fill you up so you actually eat less. Refined carbohydrates, processed foods and sugars cause cravings, binge eating and/or overeating which in turn means spending more.
3. Build your main meal from whole grains and legumes 2-3/week instead of meat
Quinoa, whole grains and legumes (beans) are less expensive than meat and contain; complex carbohydrates for sustained energy; fibre for better bowel function; protein for tissue repair and growth, as well as a multitude of other essential vitamins and minerals that our body needs.
4. Buy and cook in bulk
Grains and legumes can be bought in bulk inexpensively and there are endless ways to enjoy them. Prepare bean salads, chili and stews in quantity and freeze in meal size packs. This makes for healthy, quick and easy meals during the week.
5. Skip all the middle aisles
The middle aisles are where the processed foods are kept. Instead, shop on the outside edges -this is where all the whole foods are located.
6. Buy local
Buy fruits and vegetables that are grown locally and in season. For example, foods sold at farmers markets are usually fresher and less expensive.
7. Grow your own vegetables & herbs
You don’t need a garden. Grow your own produce in large flower pots or balcony planters.
8. Organic not necessary – wash it well!
Not all fruits and vegetables are created and/or grown equally, which means some contain fewer pesticides than others. Just make sure you wash your fresh produce well – especially spinach, bell peppers, potatoes, celery, peaches, strawberries, raspberries, apples, grapes and pears which tend to have higher pesticide levels.
9. Don’t throw out wilted vegetables or fruits.
Save them for smoothies, stews, soups or freeze them and use later.
To keep celery crispy longer - wrap it in tinfoil.
10. Shop off hours
Shop late on Saturday night or early Monday morning and take advantage of marked down meats and produce.