Melissa Ohlson, MS, RD, LD
With the United States economy at an all time low, and uncertainties about personal finances, many people have started cutting back on household expenses like groceries. But being fiscally responsible does not need to translate into compromising your heart health goals. Here are 10 nutrition tips to prove that you can continue to fuel your body with nutrients that fight cardiovascular disease, while on a budget.
- Oatmeal, a rich source of cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber, is one of the lowest cost breakfast cereals available. The most economical choice is to purchase plain oatmeal in bulk or large containers – skip the costly, sugary packets. What’s more, oats have a good shelf life, as long as they are kept in a cool, dark place.
- When available, shop for produce at local farmer’s markets. You’re not only supporting the local economy, but also enjoying produce at its peak freshness and nutrient value. If there are no farmer’s markets available in your area, plant a garden and enjoy eating, canning or freezing your own fruits and vegetables.
- Choose seasonal fruits and vegetables – such as squash and apples in the fall, root vegetables in winter, peas in the spring, and berries in the summer. You’ll save a considerable amount of money. If you crave out-of-season produce, like blueberries in December, choose frozen.
- Beans, dried or canned, are nutrition powerhouses. Boasting protein, cholesterol-lowering fiber, antioxidants, B-vitamins and more, versatile beans are a perfect substitute for costly meat in many of your family-favorite recipes. Pureed as a dip, tossed on a salad, mixed with a sauce, enjoyed in a casserole or soup, or made into a meatless patty - the options are limitless.
- If have a large family, join a wholesale warehouse outlet such as Costco or Sam’s Club. The annual membership fees are negligible when you consider the money savings. Items like hummus, fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh or frozen meats and fish, even coffee beans are less costly.
- Use coupons – but don’t “shop” for coupons. Cut out coupons for healthy items your family eats, not on junk foods.
- Shop for produce when it’s on sale (such as broccoli or blueberries when they are “buy one get one free”). If you don’t eat them right away, steam the vegetables and freeze in individual serving sizes for later use; or clean the fresh fruit and freeze on a tray, then transfer to a freezer bag.
- Brown bag it for lunch (and snacks) every day. Eating out is not only costly for your pocketbook – it is for your health too. Leftovers make for a great lunch the next day!
- Instead of buying individually wrapped portioned foods, consider buying the larger quantity available and doling the food into servings on your own. Whole grain crackers, nuts, trail mix, dried fruit, raisins, yogurt, cereal, and cheese are just a few examples. Store in reusable containers and grab and go when you need them. The same goes for produce – avoid purchasing pre-cut and washed items. Instead, wash, cut and prep fruits and veggies on your own for money savings.
- Create a menu each week for meals you’ll be preparing. Then, create a grocery list from the ingredients you’ll need to make them. Consider doubling up on some recipes so that you can freeze half to enjoy at a later date. You save even more money when you shop only from that grocery list, instead of walking willy-nilly throughout the grocery store trying to figure out what to eat.
To make an appointment with a registered dietitian, specializing in the treatment of patients with cardiovascular disease, call the Cleveland Clinic Preventive Cardiology - 216.444.9353 or 800.223.2273 ext. 9353.
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