This article appeared on the Commonwealth Care Alliance website. Read the full story here.
How meal planning can save you money without compromising nutrition
DETROIT –Food is a critical part of our lives, yet unfortunately many adults and children in Michigan don’t have reliable access to enough affordable, nutritious food. To help improve health and wellness among Michiganders, CCA Health Michigan, a leading integrated healthcare organization with proven expertise in complex care coordination, is celebrating National Nutrition Month in March by offering simple tips to eat nutritiously while minimizing the impact on your wallet.
“At CCA Health Michigan, we are on a mission to help our members who struggle with food insecurity because we know that consistent access to nutritious food is absolutely critical to long-term health and well-being,” said Brian Keane, General Manager for CCA Health Michigan. “Our team works one-on-one with members, connecting them to the resources and services they need. As food prices continue to rise and as many individuals turn to less expensive but unhealthy food options, we wanted to share practical tips that can support both our members and their communities.”
For more than 30 years, obesity rates have been on the rise in Michigan. Eating healthy is an imperative that brings with it a multitude of added benefits such as combatting serious and costly chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. While some people might think eating healthy equals high costs, there are several ways to manage expenses and still eat nutritious foods.
One way to eat healthy on a budget is through meal planning. It’s an easy way to make healthy meals without breaking the bank. Planning meals ahead of time allows you to make sure you don’t go over budget or buy foods you won’t eat and gives you the opportunity to incorporate fresh, healthy ingredients into your meals.
CCA Health Michigan shares 15 practical tips to meal plan on a budget:
- Make a list of meals you want to eat during the week, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. For ideas, visit myplate.gov/myplate-kitchen.
- Leftovers can save you time and money. Pick meals that you can make in batches and save in the fridge for several days.
- Take stock: Before you go to the grocery store, check your fridge, freezer, and pantry. Working with the ingredients you already have at home can go a long way toward saving time and money.
- Whole grains: For healthier, budget-friendly grains, choose whole-grain rice and pasta. They cost the same!
- Bulk up the protein: For meat and poultry, buying a family or value size can help you save money — you can freeze what you don’t use and save it for a different meal.
- Extend the shelf life: Buy canned foods — they last longer than fresh foods (but be sure to read labels for added fat, sugar, and salt).
- Match the season: Check what’s “in season” when buying fresh produce; it will be less expensive and have more flavor. Be sure to buy only what you can use before it spoils.
- Expiration dates: Check the sell-by date and make sure you are getting the freshest products.
- Drink more water: Avoid soda and other sugary drinks; water is more budget-friendly — and it’s healthier!
- Bargain shop: Check flyers for coupons or deals on the ingredients you need.
- Substitute, when possible: Look for less expensive alternatives. For example, when baking, you may be able to substitute eggs with ¼ cup of mashed banana or ¼ cup of applesauce.
- Organization is key: Make a grocery list of everything you need before you leave your house and stick to it.
- Don’t go to the store hungry. Eat before you shop. Going to the grocery store on an empty stomach can lead to impulse buying and unhealthy food choices.
- Use your network: Ask your friends and family where they get bargains! Dollar stores and wholesale clubs may offer good deals.
- Check in with your healthcare providers and health plan: These organizations may be able to connect you to information, benefits, and programs that fit your nutrition needs.
Bonus tip: Make sure you keep it simple. Healthy meals don’t have to be complicated, and fewer items means you’ll spend less money.back to blog