Smart Foods for Tough Economic Times

Kim Conte

These days it's harder than ever to feed a family on a budget. But that shouldn't mean we sacrifice nutrition just because money is tight. In fact, we talked to top nutritionist Dr. Shirley Kindrick who said that eating well and staying healthy is especially important during the recent economic crisis. She recommends the top four foods for staying healthy on a budget. Read on to see if these money-saving items are in your shopping cart.

CafeMom: Why is eating healthy especially important during tight economic times?

Dr. Kindrick: Eighty percent of all diseases are linked to stress. During tight economic times, stress is a big issue for people and they tend to overeat or eat unhealthy foods. It's so important to eat healthy because if you get sick, that's really going to cut into your budget.

What are the top four foods for staying healthy on a budget?

Tomatoes: You can't go wrong with vegetables. Canned tomatoes are particularly budget-friendly because many of them are already spiced-Mexican-style, Italian-style, etc.-and all the flavors are right there.

Pasta: Served any way, pasta is a great choice. You can even make macaroni and cheese healthy-just add some steamed vegetables and maybe even a little leftover meat.

Beans: There is so much you can do with beans. Plus, they're easy to make because you can buy them already canned and cooked.

Oatmeal: It's a good whole grain. Put some steel cut oats in the crock pot at night and they'll be ready in time for breakfast in the morning.

What is the highest-priced item in the grocery store? What are some good substitutes?

The highest-priced items are in the meat department. To cut down you can buy a whole chicken instead of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Also, try to use a variety of beans instead of meat. Finally, substitute dairy and eggs for meat. For example, a two-egg omelet with veggies is an excellent, cheap source of protein.

What are some other tips for cutting down on the food budget without sacrificing nutrition?

Watch portion-size. Forget restaurant-sized portions and cut back on the amount you eat.

Buy food in season. Don't pay and arm and a leg for something shipped halfway around the world.

Eat more veggies. If you substitute more vegetables for meat, you will be fuller and more satisfied.

Any advice on how we get our kids to eat all these extra veggies?

Get kids involved in food. If they are involved in the growing, preparing, and cooking processes they will be more excited to try new vegetables.

Want more on this topic? Healthy Living has an awesome oatmeal recipe. Check back later this week for other recipes using the top four foods for staying healthy on a budget.

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