Each year in March, we celebrate National Nutrition Month to learn about making informed food choices because healthy eating is the foundation of healthy living. You should enjoy the food you're eating, but you need to focus on nutrition, too—and there are lots of ways to eat right without breaking the bank.
Plan your meals as much as you can.
Similar to avoiding unnecessary waste, shopping your pantry is one of the best ways to save money. Decide what you'd like to eat, snacks included, and then check to see what ingredients you might already have. Then, make a list before going to the grocery store, because you're much less likely to spend extra money on things you haven't written down.
A note about snacks, too: Convenience often costs more money, and even the healthiest grab-and-go snacks have preservatives or additives that impact their nutritional value. Consider keeping yogurt and fresh fruit in your refrigerator to make your own parfaits, or buy trail mix ingredients in bulk to create your own version of that popular snack.
Decide where you'd like to shop.
Depending on the time of year, you might choose to visit a local farmer's market for fresh produce. Locally grown fruits and veggies are often available for less money than those at the grocery store, especially when those foods are in season.
Most grocery stores have online flyers so you can see where you might find the best deals, especially when it comes to more expensive foods. Compare different brands, and depending on how much storage you have, compare different sizes of those brands to see what makes the most sense for you.
This is where it's especially important to watch portion sizes. Eating too much means spending more, so use smaller plates and fill half with fruits and veggies, one quarter with grains, and one quarter with protein. That's an easy way to manage your portions and your budget.
Water gets rid of waste, regulates your temperature, and cushions your joints. Every singe cell, tissue, and organ in your body needs water to function properly, and most of us don't drink enough of it.
For the average healthy adult in the United States, the Mayo Clinic recommends:
- About 11.5 cups of fluid per day for women.
- About 15.5 cups of fluid per day for men.
The word fluid is important. While it's true you can meet that daily recommendation with drinks like tea and coffee, choosing plain water over sweetened beverages reduces extra calories from added sugar and saves you money. That's not to say you can't spice up your water. Add some fresh mint, berries, or cucumbers for a bit of variety.
And those numbers—15.5 cups and 11.5 cups—might seem a little overwhelming, especially if you aren't actively keeping track of how much you drink. Consider adding eight ounces of water each day to your current fluid intake, and gradually increase it each week to get closer to the recommended amount.
Saratoga Hospital's registered dietitians are available to help you create a budget-friendly meal plan specific to your individual goals. For more information, please call 518-886-5121. Physician referral is required.