Part of the New England 61-Day Challenge is to eat up more fruits and vegetables, as well as more healthy foods overall. However, it can feel as if our whole society is geared toward making it easy to avoid them.
“Today’s society likes things very quickly, right? So there goes the fast food industry that is pretty new to the country and it’s pretty new to our bodies and our genes,” said Dr. Reggie Eadie, the President and CEO of Trinity Health of New England, “it has created a way that appears to be more convenient but also gives us access more conveniently to what we call empty calories.”
Fast food isn’t just quick, it’s also cheap. So how to eat healthy on a budget? The experts at Trinity Health of New England and Big Y said spending a little time to do meal prep is the way to get the most for your time and money.
“I think sometimes when people go into the store without a grocery list it’s a lot easier to kind of pick up and make those impulse purchases,” said Andrea Luttrell, a registered dietitian for Big Y, “so making sure you have a plan in place when you’re shopping can really be a big help.”
“Buying in bulk, things that don’t go bad that you can prep for the whole week, absolutely makes sense,” said Endocrinologist Dr. Shilpa Shetty.
Anita Grinevics, the Clinical Nutrition Supervisor for Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Mass., said to make the food you buy do double or triple-duty whenever possible.
“Repurpose the meals, so for example, if you bought beans … repurpose it, put the leftovers on salad, kind of make a couple of meals with the same main ingredient so you’re not making five meals and five different shopping lists,” she said.
For fruits and veggies, frozen is sometimes healthier than fresh, because they’ve been frozen at peak freshness, right after being harvested. Canned works well do, as long as you’re mindful to not choose cans with high-sodium or syrupy ingredients.
Another easy way to save money is to widen your protein options.
“I think a lot of times the protein food tends to be kind of the most expensive part of your meal,” said Luttrell, “so making sure you’re incorporating other options, like eggs, beans, lentils. You can do nuts and nut butters. Those all count towards that protein.”