Written by Ellie Wilson, MS, RD Senior Nutritionist
Many people are on a budget these days and that tends to raise awareness of all kinds of things, including how much food we eat. For those managing diabetes, being aware of food and what its impact is on blood sugar is important, but more than once I have heard that eating healthfully is too expensive. Balancing the budget and balancing health is possible, with a few insights and a little planning.
Planning is the first hurdle – so many of us are so busy, we find it easy to ignore the concept. However, most of us plan “accidentally” – many people have a set routine for meals they cook throughout the week, as well as typical items they buy or prepare for lunch, dinner and snacks. It often changes seasonally – salads in summer, with meat on the grill; soup in the fall and winter, as well as crockpot meals. The first step to planning is just putting your “usual’s” down on paper, with dollar amounts you usually spend (or the budget amount you are trying to stick to!)
You don’t have to change everything to eat healthier on a budget, just tweak what you usually do. Do you buy rotisserie chicken for Monday nights, when you don’t want to cook? Plan on scooping out some frozen broccoli from a bag in the freezer, and microwaving a small potato – done, healthy, fast, and cheap. Both the frozen broccoli (as well as any other frozen vegetable or fruit) and the potato are very economical choices for eating well. Try a little herb seasoning, lemon or ginger in the cooking water of the broccoli.
Breakfast is also easy – eggs are a really inexpensive source of good protein, and easy to mix up with leftover vegetables for an omelet. Wheat bread is the new white bread – we now eat more wheat bread than white in the U.S., so it should be easy to find an economical choice that has at least 2 grams of fiber per slice.
Manage meat – check on the sales, slice thinly, store leftovers properly, and you can probably turn down the volume but turn up the lean, more nutritious protein choices – trade up to seafood and lean meats. Coupons are also a tool in your toolbox – check out that list of usual’s every week, and connect coupons where you can – you’ll get the best nutrition as well as the best bargain!
Medication connection – check out the Price Chopper Diabetes AdvantEdge program. Multiple medications, insulin syringes, pen tips, lancets and lancing devices – are all free. That will definitely lower the cost of diabetes management! Here is a great EatingWell® recipe that puts it all together – enjoy!