- Get veggies and fruits that are on sale and in season, they'll taste better too ... fortunately today we have the advantage of cheap canned veggies with no salt.
- Cut out salt, but if you must, get sea salt.
- Use fat sparingly, buy olive oil and canola oil. BTW, you should not notice much of a budget change by switching to of olive oil, because you use it sparingly. (store it in a cool place or in the fridge) Margarine may be cheap but it is really bad for you, so if you have to spread something go for the smart balance that has Omega-3 in it or if you can be trusted with butter, use it sparingly ... like never. NO REAL MAYO unless you can spread it so thin you can read through it. Try the fat free, or the new smart balance mayo. Get natural peanut butter with no corn syrup, and your heart will thank you (Skippy has a nice natural PB)
- Oatmeal for breakfast is cheap and good for all that ails you. Steel cut is the best, but frankly good ol' Quaker oats is definitely good for you. If you don't like hot cereal, then find an alternative like shredded mini wheats. We love those!
- Switch out white for brown ... pasta, rice, breads. Whole grain Pasta by barilla is marginally more expensive but worth it in medical bills if you KWIM ... not to mention very tastey. GET RID OF WHITE BREAD it is like eating spoonfuls of sugar. Find a bread store that has discount bread day and load up your freezer with 'whole grain' breads instead.
- Make all the same recipes you have before except swap out the healthier stuff like instead of fried, bake. Baked fries with a sprinkle of salt-free seasoning, skins on for fiber, and a dab of olive oil is much tastier than deep fried fries or frozen crud. When it comes to the casseroles, do the same ones only use brown rice, and whole wheat pasta, change from ground beef to ground turkey. It will cost a little bit more but it will be better for you. TIP: get some very lean ground beef and mix it with the turkey and use less of it. You do not need as much protein as you think.
When it comes to cream sauce in a casserole, I use skim milk instead of cream or whole milk, and I use smart butter and flour. I got a tip from a healthy cookbook that used regular cheese but just much less. So you get that nice sharp cheese taste on top of your casserole but with less calories. If it calls for a cheese topping, make some bread crumbs with whole grain bread, a dab of olive oil and just a couple ounces of real cheese. Mix together and top the casserole with it.
Most soda is loaded with sodium, and really bad for you so switch to ice tea and it can be pretty cheap. Tea is a natural antioxidant and if your budget will allow throw in a couple of green tea bags ... I did and it is delish!
- My kids have become expert dessert makers too. Because I do not buy desserts, occasional ice cream but no cookies, cakes, candy etc. Elizabeth has even created a hand dipped chocolate... to die for... using smart balance instead of butter, and dips them in dark chocolate. They are filled with sugar of course, but the point being, they can't (and I can't) stand at the pantry and load up on that junk, and it takes effort to make something from scratch.
Some of these suggestions you may want to try in doses. But if you take the attitude that you are going to enjoy this new adventure then you will. And to treat yourself occasionally to a treat is the way it should be. I would not be able to maintain this life style if I said I could NEVER have coke and movie popcorn again. And to never have an ice cream Sunday???? NO way. But if they are treated, as 'treats' then your heart will thank you and you the treat will be that much sweeter when you indulge.
My family has eaten healthy my whole life (thanks MOM) . We may have big rear ends but we all have good hearts! Even when my parents were on a budget, they made healthy foods. We never had chef borardee, or hamburger helper, unless it was a 'treat' ... same with frozen foods, sugary cereals, or pop tarts. And let me tell you, it was RARE. Always at least one veggie but usually 2 with dinner, meat was portioned out and not overflowing with extras.
Boy I hope this makes sense, I've been interrupted so many times, sheesh. Have a great day!