Friday, January 28, 2011
Several years ago I worked with a young client in her early 20s. She was about to move into her own apartment assuming all responsibility for herself, so I offered to go grocery shopping with her to help her make good choices. We met at the local HEB. She did her normal shopping and I made suggestions. I emphasized reading labels so she knew exactly what she was eating and we compared brand to brand nutrition and cost. There were some things that I had to let go. She was not giving up her chips and salsa! I became aware that sometimes eating healthier is not the cheapest way. We are all facing rising food cost which might make a calorie rich nutrient and poor diet more attractive. It might work just the other way encouraging us to get the most nutrition for our dollar. The USDA has created four food plans that meet the guidelines of the food pyramid. They are thrifty, low cost, moderate cost and liberal based on the fact that all meals and snacks are prepared at home. For instance, the thrifty plan is a national standard and is based on a budget of $133.70 per week for a family of four. Money saving strategies can help us spend less and get more for our food dollars. Not being prepared with a list and meal plans at the store is common and costs us more in the end. Planning is essential to eating healthy on any budget. Keep in mind that since meat is the most expensive part of a meal, going meatless a few meals a week is a savings. Shop the perimeters of the store where you find fresh fruits and vegetables, protein and dairy. You know all of this, right? Did you also know that the average American family throws away 14% of its food which translates to almost $600.00 each year. Minimize waste by planning ahead and being organized. My twenty something year old had to watch her budget and getting the most for her dollar was very important. We might have a little more to spend which calls for us to be even more responsible.