It’s a common myth that healthy and nutritious food is often expensive and cheap food is unhealthy. Enjoying a healthy and nutritious diet can easily be achieved without breaking your food budget. In this article, we share the importance of nutrition in your diet and how you can stretch your dollars to meet that goal.
The Science of Nutrition
In simple terms, nutrition is the composition of nutrients in food and how the body uses them to stay healthy and fight diseases. It is important to remember that just because a nutrient is good, it doesn’t mean that you should double your intake. It’s all about balance and supplying your body with the right good stuff to fight off the bad stuff.
To make things easier, nutrients are divided into two categories: macronutrients, and micronutrients. Macronutrients include carbohydrates, fats, and water. They represent the typical food pyramid we all learned as kids. Micronutrients, on the other hand, include smaller nutritional components like vitamins, minerals, and organic acids.
Macro- and micronutrients are the building blocks to a healthy body and mind that protect us as we grow up and grow old. It’s also essential for fighting diseases, keeping allergies under control, attributes to strong bones, and assist with giving your body the fuel that keeps it going.
Plan your Week
Take an hour each week to plan your meals for the week ahead and make a shopping list. Stick to that list when you visit the supermarket and don’t shop when you’re hungry. Think about what is in season when you make your list. More asparagus in the spring. Leafy vegetables in the summer. Root vegetables in the fall. And citrus fruits in the winter.
Generally, buying larger quantities saves money. Prepare overnight oats for the week and top it off with berries and seeds in the morning. Soups and stews can easily be frozen or portioned in the fridge for lunches during the week. Think about using roast vegetables in one meal that can be added to a couscous salad the next. Or a tomato soup that becomes a base for sauce another time.
Canned foods are your friend when shopping on a budget and they last longer than fresh produce. Just be sure to always check the labels for those hidden nasties like sodium, preservatives, sugar, and unsaturated fats. A general rule is if you can’t pronounce the ingredients listed on the label, don’t buy it.
Stay away from processed food and focus on whole foods. Processed food isn’t only lacking nutrients, but are often more expensive. Oats are a cheaper breakfast option than processed cereals, and they will keep you fuller longer. Bonus! Items like dried beans, pasta, wholegrain rice, and unprocessed cheese carry a lower price tag than their processed counterparts and they are generally available in bulk.
Frozen veggies are another often overlooked healthy alternative. Not only do they last longer when frozen, they are also packed with nutrients as they are almost always frozen directly after harvesting.
Consuming healthy spreads is a great way to save time and eat nutritiously. This is why many people are looking for a nut butter that meets their dietary needs. These are chock full of nutrients such as protein, healthy fats, and fiber. They can also be used in various recipes or simply spread on toast for a quick and nutritious snack. Look for natural nut butter options with no added sugars or oils to get the most nutritional bang for your buck.
Grow your Own
If you have a small patch of land, consider growing seasonal produce. It’s a great way to get outdoors and is a rewarding experience. It’s a perfect opportunity to get the kids involved in food and nutrition at an early age.
Look at seasonal seeds or saplings the next time you visit the nursery and experiment with heirloom fruits and vegetables. They come in all shapes and sizes and are a wonderful addition to any meal and they taste great! Organically grown fruit and vegetables offer a burst of flavor without any toxins. It can also be a wonderful stress reliever to dig your hands in some soil and see the results of your work.
If you live in a city, try experimenting with planting seeds in pots near a sunny windowsill. They will add a touch of nature and bring a sense of warmth to any apartment. Take a look online or at your nursery for a range of smart gardens perfect for homes with no garden. Remember that plants grown in pots require more watering so set a timer or reminder on your phone and stick to the watering schedule. Water less in winter and more in summer.
Keep your harvested produce for longer by pickling them in interesting ways. The internet is full of wonderful recipes like pickled peaches to top of a cheese board or dessert, pickled plums for tarts, and beets for salads and roasting.
Keep it Colorful
If you’re unsure about which nutrients to add to your meals, simply think of a rainbow. Pack your meals with many colors to keep things interesting. The more colors you have on your plate, the more packed your meals are with nutrients. Add red bell peppers and carrots to stews, beets with a mix of leafy greens and tomatoes to salads, and a colorful tray of roast vegetables as a delicious side dish
Bowl food isn’t only a hot trend right now but also a great way to include colorful options in your meals. Start your bowl off with a couple spoonfuls of quinoa, wholegrain rice or noodles, and top with your favorite protein, avocado, tomatoes, cucumber and a delicious red pepper sauce.
Don’t be afraid to mix your fruit and veggies. Add an avocado to your next smoothie, strawberries are a great addition to a spinach salad and watermelon complements a warm goats cheese salad.
If you’re unsure of your daily nutrient intake, need help planning your recipes around nutrients, or want to know which nutrients to add to your favorite recipe, download the RecipeIQ app. It’s a great way to stay on track with your nutrient intake and even plan meals days ahead. Store your best recipes and see where you need to increase or reduce your nutrients by adding individual items.
Find out more, here.