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Monday, September 28, 2015

Delicious Nutrition on a Budget

I still think the holidays are a ways off, but retail stores beg to differ with their numerous Halloween and even Christmas displays in full view.  But regardless of how distant the holidays may feel, there is one very universal reality - budgets tend to get tight around the holidays.  Whether from visiting family, gift-giving, decorating to-the-hilt, or simply entertaining friends, our finances tend to take a hit this time of year.  Here are some ways to make sure you continue to enjoy delicious and healthful nutrition when funds are a bit leaner:

1. Plan, plan, plan!  Making a menu is key so that you can plan to work in leftover items throughout the week.  Also, making menu leads to making a grocery list and when we stick to our list, we spend less.  

2. Shop seasonal produce.  Whether that means apples, pears, squash or root veggies, embracing the flavors of the season means sale prices at the grocery store.  

3. Try frozen and canned produce.  Frozen produce is a convenient twin-sister to fresh fruits and veggies.  Nothing is added, it is simply fresh produce that is frozen.  Canned produce is getting much more attractive nutritionally as the canning process is using less or no sodium with veggies and natural fruit juice instead of syrup for fruits.  And lets face it, they canned produce wins hands down when it comes to convenience and store-ability.  During colder months when local produce is no longer an option, use canned and frozen varieties to supplement your produce budget and maintain a high level of plants in your diet.  

4. Go meatless a few days each week.  Lets face it, the butcher counter is one of the highest priced areas of any supermarket.  By simply omitting the meat from your entrees a couple nights a week, you can not only help increase the fiber, vitamin and mineral content of your diet by incorporating more veggies and whole grains, but you'll save some bucks as well.  

5. Enlist the crockpot.  Soup season is one of my favorite times of the culinary year.  Not only do you get loads of veggies, beans and warm comforting flavors to accompany all that nutrition, but they are generally very simple to throw together in a crockpot and you'll be hard pressed to find a cheaper meal.  Beyond soups, enlist your crockpot (and your children to help learn the art of crockpot cooking - they'll thank you later) to keep your family on track with family dinner.

Eating at the dinner table is always a healthier option and cheaper than eating out.  Knowing you have a hot meal waiting for you at home is the best deterrent to the siren song of the drive-thru.  

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