Top 10 Tips on How to Make Heart Healthy Meals on a Budget
Americans are experiencing higher rates of childhood obesity and incidence of heart disease and diabetes among adults are increasing at a mind-boggling rate. The culprit? Fast food chains are taking over the country with their quick and inexpensive fat and calorie-rich foods leaving our country with startling health statistics. More often than not, we see busy parents who are pressed for time pulling through the drive-thru in order to get their kids fed in between soccer and scouts. While it may make dinner easier, in the long run, it’s bound to make life harder as parents and kids alike are stricken with higher rates of disease and obesity.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 63% of the United States adults are overweight or obese, and less than 25% of Americans are getting the recommended five daily servings of fruits and vegetables daily. The largest contributing factor to these numbers would be large difference in costs associated with eating healthy, homemade foods as opposed to high-calorie, high-fat processed alternatives. High fructose corn syrup is used as the primary sweetener in these processed foods and beverages, while dehydrogenated soybean oil is the leading source of trans-fats found in these options; together, these two ingredients are the cheapest sources of calories in the world.
The Benefits of Eating Healthy Foods:
- Lowers the risk for diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, Hypertension, Heart Disease, and certain cancers
- Increases energy (and reduces reliance on high-calorie, high-sugar sodas and coffee drinks)
- Reduces the stress placed on joints and tendons
- Improves overall health and vitality
The following is some sound advice on ways to convert your calorie intake from the cheaper, more fattening sugars and fats into the more nutritious proteins, complex carbohydrates and fibers that will make you heart smart while still keeping you penny wise.
10 Tips on How to Make Heart Healthy Meals on a Budget:
Coupons, Shoppers Clubs, and Bargains, Oh My!
By utilizing coupons, shopper’s club deals, and reading weekly grocery advertisements for sales, the average shopper can save from 25% to 50% off of their bill on each trip to the market. Most grocery store chains have sales that run in 12-week cycles and their specials on nutritious food items reflect this. The trick is to match the coupons to your shopping rather than the other way around to avoid purchasing items you don’t need and sidestepping the end result of saving money.
Spice Things Up
Spices like garlic, turmeric, cayenne pepper, paprika, cinnamon, ginger, basil, cilantro, curry powder and parsley are not only terrific ways to dress up healthy ingredients but are also full of anti-oxidants as well as anti-inflammatory properties that boost the immune system.
Some tasty ways to accent heart-smart foods:
- Fish – dill, fennel, mustard
- Beans – cayenne, chili, pepper
- Beef – curry, rosemary, thyme
- Eggs – basil, paprika, tarragon
- Chicken – allspice, sage ,lemongrass
- Fruit – anise, cinnamon, ginger
- Cheese – caraway, celery seed, horseradish
Make Friends with Your Crockpot
Slow cooked meals prepared in crackpots save energy, transform inexpensive cuts of meat into tender chunks of mouthwatering goodness, use cost efficient items like beans and legumes, reduce fat content by eliminating the need for oils or grease and require little prep time as all the nutritious ingredients are thrown together to simmer happily on their own. A Crockpot is also perfect for the family on the go as you are able to prepare your meal in the morning, turn it on, and walk away. When you return after a long day filled with work, school, and family, you’ll find dinner ready to go!
Resurrect the “Victory Garden”
Americans were highly concerned with rationing during World War II in order to save desperately needed resources (foods, metals, etc.) for troops. Many found themselves gardening most of their own fruits and vegetables, as well as herbs. While we may not be worried about rationing in this day and age, why not grow some of your own produce?
Even those who live in areas with little to no space for gardening—apartments, condos or town homes-are finding more places than ever to flex their green thumb. Hanging tomato planters, pots on a front porch, and windowsill herb gardens are all space and price conscious ways to stretch your produce dollar. Seeds cost a fraction of what you’d typically spend on veggies at the grocery store, and plants continue to yield seeds over and over, again cutting your costs.
Return the “Whole” to Wholesome
Grocery stores often sell whole cuts of meat for a fraction of the price they charge for their pre-sectioned selection.
What to know when buying whole cuts of meat:
- Most meat counter butchers will cut it into pieces for you free of charge.
- Placing the fatty side of meat on the bottom makes it easier to slice through.
- Remember: you are more likely to cut yourself using a dull knife than you are using a sharp one, so make sure to keep your kitchen tools sharp and ready to go at all times.
A Rose by Any Other Name… Generics that Work
There are certain generic foods that have almost no discernable differences from their brand name counterparts other than significantly lower price tags. These foods include pantry staples such as flour, sugar, salt and spices. Additionally, adding generic cereals to the cart can save an impressive 25%-50%, while salad mixes and produce items should always be graded on freshness rather than the sticker they display.
Eggs Anytime, All the Time
Starving students have known for decades that by cracking the versatile shells of eggs they can have meals that are delicious, full of protein and don’t cost a lot of money. Eggs usually cost $1.00 to $1.50 per dozen and make themselves even more useful by having a number of ways they can be cooked up and served. They can be deviled, scrambled, fried, poached or made into omelets, quiches, eggs salad, eggs Benedict, egg fried rice any many more healthy, easy to make and economical dishes. Just be careful to throw an egg-white omelet or two in once and a while in order to avoid eating too many yolks, as egg yolk is associated with rising cholesterol numbers.
Pasta, Rice and Potatoes…The Real Scoop on Healthy Starches
It is a misleading myth that all starches are fattening and bad for your health when they are used in moderation. Usually it is what is placed atop of the pasta, potato or rice dish that adds excess to not only the fat content but also to the calorie count. Not only are these foods rich in fiber and contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, but they are also the crucial elements of reasonably priced meals that are most likely to satisfy every member of the household, from toddler to teenager. It is important to note that the whole-wheat and vegetable options of pasta as well as the brown rice choices are healthier than the all “white” varieties.
Buying in the “Incredible Bulk”
There is only one reason to buy in bulk and it happens to be a very good one. Warehouse chains such as Sam’s Club and Costco offer food items at prices that are often three times cheaper than traditional grocery store chains.
Some items that are definitely worth buying in bulk:
- Canned Tuna and Salmon
- Dried Fruits and Nuts
- Bottled Fruit Juices
- Dried Navy, Pinto and Black Beans
Welcome to the Ice Age
The debate over the nutritional value of fresh versus frozen foods is sure to continue, but in the meantime using frozen foods usually reduces the amount lost to spoilage and certainly makes the case for trips to the frozen food section. Frozen fruit is less than half the price of fresh fruit when out of season and the prices of frozen vegetables consistently beat out their canned counterparts.
In addition to purchasing more nutritious ingredients, it is also important to practice healthy food preparation. Kyocera Advanced Ceramics offer a wide variety of cutlery that provide a healthy alternative to stainless steel because ceramic blades do not transfer metal ions, dirt or bacteria to food.
Some of Kyocera Ceramics Most Popular Kitchen Tools:
- Kyocera Chef’s Knife
- Kyocera Grater
- Kyocera Grinder
- Kyocera Julienne Slicer
- Kyocera Mandoline
- Kyocera Mill
- Kyocera Paring Knife
- Kyocera Perfect Peeler
- Kyocera Santoku Knife
- Kyocera Slicer