5 creative ways to eat healthy on a budget

Healthy Eating on a Budget

Eating healthy doesn't have to be expensive. Staying within your budget is possible as long as you're dedicated to trying new foods and creative ideas to become healthier.

1. Be a smart shopper!

Visit your local farmer's market, and buy what's currently in season. At your local grocery stores, try planning your meals around what's on sale. Of course, don't shop when you're hungry, and buy only what you need. If you would like to minimize time prepping your food, consider frozen vegetables – stock up on onions, bell peppers and greens, not just corn or mixed vegetables. Don't forget to sign up for your supermarket's loyalty card – often, you'll get discounted prices without having to clip coupons.

2. It doesn't have to be all organic.

Prioritize your organic purchases by knowing the "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean 15" lists. Every year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture tests produce for levels of pesticide, and the Environmental Working Group pushes lists to inform consumers which produce they should buy organic (Dirty Dozen), and which non-organic produce have low levels of pesticide residue (Clean 15).

Dirty Dozen: apples, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, nectarines, peaches, potatoes, snap peas, spinach, strawberries, sweet bell peppers, kale and collar greens

Clean 15: asparagus, avocados, cabbage, cantaloupe, cauliflower, eggplant, grape fruit, kiwi, mangoes, onions, papayas, pineapples, sweet corn, sweet peas, sweet potatoes

* Source: Environmental Working Group

3. Utilize your freezer space.

Cut up your fresh fruits (berries, bananas, pineapples) and fresh vegetables (summer squash, green beans, carrots, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower and tomatoes) and freeze them so you may enjoy them for longer.

Blanch the vegetables first. After they're frozen, they can go straight to the microwave, oven or stovetop, no thawing needed. Freezing your produce won't have the same texture as fresh, but the nutrients remain. Just make sure they're completely dry before packing them, and store them in the back of your freezer (the coldest part). Remember to label and date your food to help minimize food waste.

4. Low-carb meals with more vegetables.

Make your own pizza with grated cauliflower as your base and crust. Instead of using real pasta, try making your very own pasta from a spaghetti squash or zucchini. Don't forget to toss in a lot of vegetables as your toppings.

For example, cut the spaghetti squash into halves, remove the seeds, microwave for 10 minutes and let cool; using a fork, start scraping, and you'll see "spaghetti strings." For a zucchini, just slice the zucchini with a vegetable peeler, and eat it raw or cooked.

5. Cut the junk.

Evaluate how much money you may be spending on soda, juice, cookies, crackers and chips, etc. Eliminating these foods and making room to buy vegetables could help you save money.

Start saving today, and start making little changes to become healthier today.

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