You walk down the healthy foods aisle at your neighborhood market and feel your heart drop. You have a family of four; there is no way that you can afford heart-healthy meals every night. Right? Wrong. According to Kate Geagan, registered dietitian, self-proclaimed America’s Green Nutritionist and author of Go Green, Get Lean, families can eat nutritious dinners for less than $100 per week.
“You just have to be willing to trade time for convenience and do the cooking on your own,” she says.
Here are her top tips for eating right without breaking the bank:
Buy the bird
Instead of purchasing pre-packaged chicken, buy an entire bird and ask the grocery store butcher to cut it up for you, Geagan recommends. Then roast it yourself. It will last you weeks. Freeze what you don’t use right away.
Watch your snacks
Small packages of pretzels and cookies can run up your grocery bill (and expand your waistline). Geagan suggests buying bulk dried fruits, unsalted nuts and sunflower seeds, then portioning them out into reusable containers for heart-healthy snacks.
“An Altoid tin or small, re-sealable bag is the perfect size for a snack, and buying in bulk will save you money,” she says.
Say ‘yes’ to plants
Meats can prove costly, so try to eat plant proteins around three times per week. Geagan recommends bean-based dishes such as vegetarian chili.
“Make it interesting by setting up a chili bar with sliced scallions, red bell peppers and avocados,” she says. “The selection allows your family to customize, but at its base your dinner is bean chili, which is affordable.”
Cook in batches
Take a few minutes and make enough dinner to last multiple evenings, advises Geagan. Try preparing soups or stews and storing them in the refrigerator or freezer. Cooked chicken is another good option.
Head to the freezer
For nights when you choose to eat meat, try to make your dinner plate 75 percent full of fruits and vegetables, says Geagan. Instead of buying fresh produce and risking spoilage, she recommends buying frozen items on sale and thawing when needed.
“Frozen fruits and veggies are picked at the peak of perfection,” she says. “Even when it comes to fish, I recommend opting for frozen filets or canned salmon. Frozen fish is tasty and will save you a lot of money.”