Healthy Meals… on a BudgetHealthy Options, Healthy Meals Conference September 30, 2011
OverviewOverview• I’m confused: What’s healthy?• Top 10 tips for eating cheap..and healthy• Ultimate cheap and healthy meal
I’m confused…what’s healthy?*Ninety percent of Americans think they eat healthfully, according to a January 2001 Consumer Reports poll, yet 66% of us are overweight or obese….If you’re confused by the onslaught of healthy diets and terminology, you’re not alone. Here is just a sample: Low fat Glycemic load Low calorie Low carb High protein Belly fat Vegan Trans fats Omega 3s Vegetarian Saturated fats Zero-calorie Atkins diet BMI Whole grain Good carb/bad carb Calories Instant Good fat/bad fat Cholesterol (good/bad) Organic South beach diet Metabolism Natural Antioxidants Exercise Superfoods Glycemic index Diabetes (I/II) Good for heart/brain/etc*www.livestrong.com
“Health” and “Diet” foods are big business, low on nutrition• In the US, Americans spend $40 Billion on weight loss programs and products• Food marketing is also a multi-billion dollar industry: $4 Billion alone for fast food• $15 Billion is spent marketing to kids (Kellogs spent $24 Million alone marketing Cheez-Its) <5% ok other• Yet, an independent study conducted by nutrition scientists found that on 23% of the 18% Fruits 24,000 items in a supermarket met only their and Veg lowest criteria for a healthful food, and of that 23%, 80% were fruits and vegetables 77% Junkhttp://www.businessweek.com/debateroom/archives/2008/01/the_diet_indust.html, Supermarket study quoted from Marian Nestle, Food Politics.com
To know what’s healthy, follow these guidelinesHealthy food is:1) Nutrient dense (nutritional bang for calorie buck)2) In natural form (think apple, vs. apple jacks)3) No added junk (trans fats, preservatives, artificial colors, conditioners, flavorings, etc) There’s no need to spend big bucks on heavily marketed “health” foods. It’s probably junk anyways.
Alissa’s Top 10 Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget1. Learn to cook2. Focus on staples3. Buy in bulk4. Buy in-season produce5. Freeze for later6. Go old-school7. Buy frozen produce8. Buy close to the source9. BYOB/C10. Have a plan
#1 Learn to Cook• Healthy take-out and restaurant items are rare, and they’re expensive• If you don’t cook, you’re paying someone else to cook for you. You’re also likely paying for: – Packaging – Clean-up – Delivery/transportation• If you buy uncooked, unprocessed ingredients, you’re paying for food and nothing else, which means you can afford good ingredients• All you really need to know is how to boil water
#2 Focus on Staples• Staple foods: eggs, whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat flour), beans, vegetables and fruits, maybe milk• Unprocessed whole grains and beans are particularly cheap• The following are not food groups, you don’t need to waste money on them: – Juice and Pop – Candy/cookies/dessert – Chips
#3 Buy in Bulk Average price/lb: – Lima Beans: $1.15 – Black Beans: $1.15 – Lentils: < $1.00 – Brown Rice: $2.00 – Quinoa: $2.50 – Oats: <$1.00 1 lb dried beans = 12, ½ cup servings (100+ calories) = 10 cents per servingshttp://www.aaoobfoods.com/bulkfoods.htm
Nutrition information:Black beans and Brown Rice
#4 Buy In-Season• Seasonal produce is cheaper• You’re paying less for storage, hopefully less for shipping• Best scenario is to buy local• NEO has incredible CSA offerings, including one that has limited-income subsidy offering: – The cost for the CSA to right is $16 for 1 limited income family share – 20 pick-up locations in Cuyahoga, Lorain, and Summit counties – This share was price-compared at a leading chain grocery store at $42 – Regular price is $22 per shareScreenshot and pricing from http://cityfresh.org/faq
#5 Freeze for later• The EPA estimated that Americans generate roughly 30 million tons of food waste each year• $75 Billion worth of food ($250 for every person)• Glass food storage containers: $1.50 each, and go from freezer to oven/microwave• Chest freezers: $80 to $400, last 10 years• Not just frugal, but home-made “fast food”• Freeze: – Prepared meals – Produce – Nuts – Meathttp://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/18/weekinreview/18martin.html
#6 Go Old-School• Eating like grandma or great-grandma is not only going to be cheaper, but healthier• Our ancestors were forced to do less with more, and know how to prepare cheaper staples, cuts of meat• Also more knowledgeable on food preservation techniques, such as canninghttp://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/18/weekinreview/18martin.html
#7 Buy Frozen• Frozen produce is oftentimes cheaper• Can also be easier• Just as healthy, sometimes healthier than fresh• Buy frozen, NOT canned Examples prices: Fresh Asparagus $3.99/lb Frozen Asparagus $1.99/12 oz Fresh Green Beans $2.49/lb Frozen Green Beans $2.29/24 oz Fresh Broccoli Crowns $1.99/lb Frozen Broccoli Crowns $1.29/lb Fresh Blueberries $2.99/6 oz Frozen Blueberries $2.29/12 ozhttp://queercents.com/2008/09/24/stretch-your-food-dollar-fresh-vs-frozen/
#8 Buy Close to the Source• These days you’re paying for a lot more than food when you go to the grocery store: – Farmer – Packaging (cardboard, plastic, printing labels) – Shipping by air or ground: farmer to processor, processor to main distributor, distributor to local distributor, local distributor to grocery store (average food travels 1500 to 2500 miles) – Storing: cooling costs for foods that spoil – Each entity along the way takes their $ margin $• By comparison, buying local produce at farm stand only pays farmer’s costshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_miles
#9 BYOB/C• Bring Your Own Beverage/Container• You have no nutritional need to drink anything but water, which is FREE or close to it• Water containers are cheap, re-usable and frequent give-aways• Save $$ by avoiding: – Pop – Lattes – Juices or imitation juices – Anything else that’s not water• Bonus: follow this rule and you’ll probably lose weight and have more energy• Tea, when you make it yourself, is also dirt cheap (Organic Green Tea from whole foods: 80 tea bags for $2.99 = <4 cents per cup)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_miles
#10 Have a Plan• Planning is critical• Cooking cheap staples like rice, beans, eggs is easy, has short “active” preparation time, but does require you to think ahead• For example, beans require soaking 8 hours and boiling 30-45 minutes• Not likely to do this when you’re already hungry
Ultimate Cheap and Healthy MealFeed a family of 4 for $4• ½ cup black beans ($0.12)• 1 cup brown rice ($0.33)• 4 ounces frozen broccoli ($0.32)= $0.77(round up to $1 for some spices and a little butter/olive oil)
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