For Rushdee Omar, finding the time and energy to cook a healthy meal for his family of four can be overwhelming at the end of a work day.
Omar, who has worked at Duke for seven years, said it can be tempting to stop by Arby’s or McDonald’s for takeout instead of cooking his favorite salmon meal at home for his wife and two daughters, ages 3 and 7.
“It’s easier to get off the healthy bandwagon,” said Omar, DCRI’s administrative manager.
With questions about staying on a healthy path, Omar turned to LIVE FOR LIFE, Duke’s employee wellness program, to live webinars in the subject. She learned that she wasn’t the only person looking for strategies to make smart food choices while saving money on grocery bills.
With food prices rising 10 percent since last May, the biggest annual increase in 41 years, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics — Grocery dollars have had to stretch, especially when prioritizing healthy options.
“When people really start to stick to eating healthy foods throughout the day on a regular basis, they just feel like they have more energy to get things done in their day,” said Esther Granville, nutrition program manager for LIVE FOR LIFE, employee of Duke. wellness program. “It will just make them feel better.”
Here are some strategies for eating healthy while sticking to a tighter budget.
Find the best deals
A proven way to cut costs is to find deals and use coupons.
When Granville hosted a co-worker gathering at her home this summer, she wanted to roast chicken, which was $2.79 a pound at her regular store. He researched deals online and found a chicken sale for 99 cents a pound at a different grocery store.
Most grocery stores post prices and digital coupons on their websites, but there are also mobile apps to make it easy to find deals.
For coupons, there is “Turn around”, a website and app that offers hundreds of ads and coupons based on zip code. “Flipp” allows users to search for deals based on specific items. Another app, “Basket”, allows you to create a shopping list and instantly see a price comparison between grocery stores in real time.
“You can go to different stores for that better price,” said Granville, who uses the Basket app.
make a simple plan
To avoid losing your way at a grocery store, Granville recommends sticking to one weekly meal. plan. The practice of writing a list based on recipes helps you stick to a healthy set of items and avoid overspending.
In addition, the mobile applicationTime to eat” provides meal plans based on dietary needs and provides a shopping list based on the number of people you are feeding.
“One of the big things dietitians will talk about is the idea of planning ahead,” Granville said. “One way you can really cut down on food waste is by simply planning what you’re actually going to cook and eat that week.”
Marsha Perry, a Duke Law School library associate recently started using a strategy that helps her save money on groceries. She reviews her recipes with her husband and creates a list in the Notes app on her phone, then orders groceries online. That way, she doesn’t shop off the list at the store.
“I don’t usually do my impulse buys when I sit down and place an order,” Perry said.
Granville also suggests focusing on the basic ingredients in a dish, like beans, fruits, grains, and vegetables that make meals colorful. This approach can reduce the need for meat, one of the most expensive grocery items.
Choose canned or frozen foods
Using canned and frozen foods can save time and money without compromising nutrition.
These items, like frozen broccoli, canned beans and frozen fruit, are staples in the Granville household. Beans in particular are a versatile protein that can become the star of many types of meals, heated and spiced for wraps, soups, vegetable bowls and more.
When it comes to frozen foods, Granville suggests choosing a small variety of fruits and vegetables that can be quickly used up for a meal.
“If you’re in a hurry, maybe you didn’t plan as well as usual, those things like frozen mixed vegetables that you can pull out of the freezer and have on your plate in two or three minutes,” Granville said. “It’s a really great thing to have in terms of keeping that plate really healthy.”
For Omar, canned chicken comes in handy for chicken salad during the work week. Instead of cooking the meat, he can use the canned chicken to pack lunches for the whole week.
“Canned chicken, a little bit of mayonnaise, a little bit of celery, pepper and voila,” he said. “You can make it into a sandwich or just throw it on your plate.”