DIVAS ON A DIME: No excuses! You can eat healthy on a budget

By Patti Diamond

Healthy foods under $1 a serving. (www.JasonCoblentz.com)

Happy New Year! If you’re like millions of people, you’ve just made resolutions to improve your health and finances.

First — good job! What we eat and how much we spend on food are two areas of our lives where we have control. You can’t easily change your mortgage or car payment, but you can adjust your food choices and expenditures starting today.

I’ve heard every excuse in the book about why it’s impossible to eat healthfully on a budget. Here’s some tough love from the Diva:


I’m too busy!

Instead of saying “I’m too busy,” say “I don’t make it a priority to provide healthy meals for my family.” How does that feel? We all have the same 24 hours in a day, and we make time for what’s important to us. If your schedule is so packed you can’t feed yourself, it’s time to rethink your obligations.


I never know what my schedule is going to be.

Meal planning is essential for those with erratic schedules. Plan “busy day” meals by cooking extra on the weekend. Use the crockpot in the morning to have meals waiting at the end the day. If you’re all on different schedules; stock your freezer with single portion, healthy meals available on demand, like homemade soups and casseroles.


Healthy foods are too expensive.

Inexpensive foods that offer a powerhouse of nutrition should be the bulk of your diet. Here is a list of healthy foods that cost under $1 per serving: Whole chickens, canned tuna and salmon, eggs, plain yogurt, peanut butter, beans, lentils, brown rice, oats, whole-wheat pasta, sweet potatoes, kale, cabbage, salad greens, carrots, apples, oranges, bananas, frozen vegetables, frozen berries, almonds, black and green teas, coffee, sparkling water.


I don’t know how to cook.

Like to eat? Well, learn to cook. While you’re learning, teach the whole family. It’s the greatest gift you can give them. The world is awash in recipes and tutorials on TV, online and in old-fashioned cookbook form.

Cooking all the time is overwhelming. I feel ya! It isn’t fair for one person in a household to do all the cooking when everybody eats. Delegate cooking and cleaning up afterward to other family members when appropriate. Even a toddler can help put dishes in the dishwasher.

Cooking from scratch takes too long. If you have time for fast food, you have time to cook food. Gather a handful of simple recipes that take 20 minutes or less and keep your pantry stocked with ingredients to make them. Take a little help from the store by purchasing precut veggies, or rotisserie chicken.


I don’t have time to clip coupons.

Good! Don’t. Most coupons are for name-brand processed foods anyway. And often store brands at regular price are still cheaper than name brands on sale.


My family only likes fast food and convenience foods.

If your child was going outside and eating dirt, you’d stop them, right? Well, stop them from eating foods that damage their health. Food choices are important. Every bite we consume creates the building blocks from which our bodies grow and repair. We literally are what we eat. You may need to gradually wean your family off the junk while introducing healthier options, but their health depends on it. Do it.


Make your financial and physical health a priority in this new year. Cheers to a fresh start and another chance for us to get it right.


Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is the penny-pinching, party-planning, recipe developer and content creator of the website “Divas On A Dime — Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com


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