Eating healthy can be challenging. Learn how to do it on a budget.

Dinner on a Dime

The holidays are over. And that means your wallet is a little lighter. And you? Not so much. If you're looking to eat on the cheap and start shedding those extra pounds, here are some thrifty ideas to get you there.


After the holiday season, you find your credit cards maxed out, your Christmas bonus spent, your wallet thin and your belly bulging. You've overeaten, overspent and overindulged, but it's a new year and time to rein in your fitness and finances.


Eating healthy can be challenging. Often, time and money don't cooperate with your meal plan, so you stray from your healthy eating plan and settle for a bag of 99-cent hamburgers for quick food fix. But those days are no more.


The health and fitness pros at eDiets can show you how to combine exercise and nutrition to get the best results. Click here to get started.


Whole foods, organic vegetables and lean meats can be pricey, but can you put a price on your health? Well, yeah. It's Sunday night, payday isn't until Friday, and you barely have two nickels to rub together.


How can you eat for the rest of the week on such meager funds? Oh, ye of little faith, here are the tricks, tips and recipes to eat healthy without paying heavily.


"Specialty items and some organic products can be more expensive than items purchased at your local grocery store, but eating healthy doesn’t always have to cost you more," explains Pamela Ofstein, eDiets director of Nutrition Services. "For example, substitute frozen vegetables for fresh ones. They are usually cheaper and will last longer."


If you’re going to buy fresh produce, Pam recommends buying your fruits and vegetables in season, which can lower your food bill. She also suggests hitting the sale rack, buying items on sale like low-fat meats and chicken and freezing them for later to save even more cabbage.


Some of Pam’s favorite low-priced foods include brown rice, whole-grain pasta, canned tuna and canned salmon, which can be quickly thrown together for an inexpensive, healthy meal.


"Simply add canned tuna or salmon to pasta and add in vegetables. It’s a trouble-free way to get protein, carbs, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals while keeping it cheap," says Pam.


She also suggests, "Using ground, lean turkey in place of ground beef for items such as meat loaf, tacos, casseroles and more."


Also, making enough to use the leftovers for lunch the next day is a good way to save a few extra clams on lunch.


Long past are your college days of surviving on Ramen noodles and macaroni and cheese, and long gone is the metabolism that tolerated that business, but you can still eat with the money you find in the couch cushions by using Pam’s tips. Plus, you’re not spending half your food budget on beer and pizza, so you should be able to buy some fruits and vegetables.


These insider tips and tricks are nice, but you’re no Iron Chef. What are you supposed to do with a couple chicken breasts, half an onion, ketchup, a little lemon juice and olive oil? Try this recipe for Quick and Easy Chicken from the Recipe Club:


Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 (4 oz.) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 Tbsp. and 1-1/2 teaspoons ketchup
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. and 1-1/2 tsp. white sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper


Directions:

1. Saute onion in oil until translucent.
2. Add chicken, and brown lightly.
3. Combine ketchup, soy sauce, sugar, lemon juice and pepper; mix well. Pour over chicken, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 25 to 35 minutes.


Makes two servings. Nutrition values per serving: 255 calories, 28.2g proten, 8.3g fat, 669mg sodium, 68mg cholesterol, 16.5g carbohydrate and 0.9g fiber.


Check eDiets’ Recipe club for more of the many great recipes available.


Another trick to save money is to use leftovers from the night before to spice up the next day’s dinner, like this one-two punch:


Sausage and Peppers/Peppy Pasta
Meal 1: Make a simple entree of broiled, grilled or sauteed sausage and green bell peppers; use kielbasa, Italian sausage or smoked sausage. Make enough to have leftovers, and refrigerate. Note: You can also saute onion with the sausage and peppers.


For a mere $2 more, you can make this meal:
Meal 2: Boil, according to package directions, whole-grain pasta. While the pasta is cooking, chop the leftover sausage and peppers (and onions if you used them). Place in a saute pan, and add two cloves chopped garlic. Simmer two minutes. Add a can of diced tomatoes, un-drained, and 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper; simmer two more minutes. Sprinkle on your favorite Italian herbs, such as basil and oregano; simmer one minute. Serve over pasta.


You’ve been eating well, but you still yearn for a burger, right? Well, instead of letting the king or the clown serve you an unhealthy hamburger, try this turkey burger to quell your cravings.


There are numerous other great recipes to try -- if these don’t tickle your fancy -- in the eDiets’ Recipe Box. You’re the new frugal gourmet, so take the money you saved and treat yourself to some new clothes.


More money and less fat -- that’s a real win, win.


 
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