June 10th, 2018 • 4 min read
Last Updated: August 12th, 2018
Inspiration of the article:
If only your waist could be as skinny as your wallet! If your belt-tightening is not just a necessity but a weight-loss goal, these may be challenging days for you.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), food costs increased 5.5 percent in 2008 and are likely to increase another 3 to 4 percent in 2009. The cost of eating out also increased about 4 percent in the past year. But, despite these statistics, it is still possible to stick to a healthy diet without busting the bank.
Fortunately, there are smart ways to overcome the current costs for food. Here are some general guidelines for healthy food shopping when counting calories and pennies:
Related: Here Are 16 Ways To Lose Weight Fast
Donna Weihofen, RD, MS, a nutritionist at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison, recently did some comparison shopping in her local area stores to find out which foods offered the best calorie counting and cost bargains. Her results reflect the budget diet recommendations created by national groups such as the USDA.
Related: 42 Fast And Easy Tips To Lose Weight
“Of course the lowest-cost proteins are dried beans and eggs,” says Weihofen. “Then the next step up is canned beans, milk, and whole chicken. And the next step up was chicken thigh, then chicken breast, then deli chicken. Chicken is really a bargain, but the deli chicken was out of sight compared to the rotisserie chicken.”
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Weihofen recommends taking advantage of the opportunities a whole chicken (rotisserie or baked at home) presents. Use the leftover meat in a chili, stew, or soup later in the week. And of course, the bones can be used to make stock for another soup later as well.
Weihofen also found that whole baking potatoes present a cost-saving opportunity, as does buying frozen vegetables. “Frozen red peppers are cheaper than buying the fresh peppers, for example. If you just weigh that stuff out, you’ll see what the difference is,” she says. Another trick for cost saving is to think in terms of versatility and multiple meals, especially if using bulk ingredients: A bean chili today might become the filling for a taco or wrap tomorrow.
If you are sticking to a specific diet plan, you may wonder how to make all this work — calorie counting, tracking carbs and fat grams while stretching every dollar. Just apply what you know about portion sizes and calorie counts to low-cost foods. Here are some ideas for specific diet plans:
Dieting on a budget takes creativity, especially when some of the best low-calorie foods, like fresh fish and berries, are expensive. But, with smart shopping and a willingness to experiment with new foods and flavors, calorie counting on a budget is not only doable, but can be fun, too.
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