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March is National Nutrition Month

Montefiore nutritionist offers tips for eating healthy on a budget

New York City, NY (March 9, 2009) -- March is National Nutrition Month, a perfect time to start making healthier food choices.  If you think that the only way to eat healthy is by buying overpriced organic food...think again! You can be budget-savvy AND eat healthy with a little bit of planning. Start saving your pennies and your waistline with the following wallet-friendly tips provided by Jessica Shaffer, RD, cardiac dietitian at Montefiore Medical Center:

  • Clip coupons and keep your eye out for sales at the supermarket.
  • Make a shopping list ahead of time and stick to it.
  • Don't go to the supermarket hungry. We buy junk food on impulse when our stomachs are growling.
  • Buy generic brands. Store brand food products are cheaper and are often the same as brand names only in different containers. .
  • Buy in bulk for items you use all the time.  Watch out for expiration dates.
  • Choose fresh fruit and vegetables when they are "in season" for the best prices.

            Local farmers' markets have the freshest produce for the best prices.  

  • Try frozen or "no added salt" canned for year-round fruit and vegetables at reasonable prices. Frozen produce without sauces usually have no additives and can be kept for long periods of time.
  • Keep your cupboard loaded with multi-purpose, healthy staples.  For example: dry beans and lentils, oatmeal, cream of wheat, rice (try brown rice), pasta (try whole-wheat), canned tuna fish and salmon and crushed tomatoes.
  • Mind your portion sizes. Food lasts longer when you eat the proper serving size. Meat can be expensive but a serving should only be about the size of a deck of cards.
  • Don't drink your calories - Drink water. Sugary juice and soda will just pack on the calories and they cost money. Tap water is free right from your sink.
  • Stay away from prepackaged meals which tend to be salt-laden and can do damage to your budget.
  • Cook at home. Eating out can cost a bundle and the meals are usually loaded with extra calories and fat. Get your kids involved by learning to cook together rather than opening up a box and microwaving,
  • Pack your own lunches. The price you pay for one or two packaged sandwiches at the deli could buy the fixings for a week's worth of homemade lunches; and you get to control what you put in it.
  • When cooking meals, make extra and freeze or save for lunches or days when you would have ordered out. This works extremely well with one-pot dishes like casseroles, stir-fry, soups and stews.
  • Restaurant meals are massive - Share entrees or pack half your meal up for another time.
  • Get creative and introduce yourself to new foods. Conjure up a dish by mixing a bunch of those cheap nutritive items found in your cupboard. 
  • If you love fast food there are ways to eat healthier.
    • Healthier fast food ideas: regular, single-patty hamburger without mayo or cheese, grilled chicken sandwich, veggie burger, garden salad with grilled chicken and low-fat dressing, baked potato, yogurt parfait, grilled chicken strips and make sure to limit cheese, mayo, and special sauces.
    • Watch out for anything fried, double and triple burgers, salad with toppings such as bacon, cheese, and ranch dressing, French fries, milkshakes, chicken "nuggets" or tenders, and adding cheese, mayo and special sauces.

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