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It’s a common misconception that eating well is very expensive. With a plan and a few go-to inexpensive health foods, you and your kids will be on your way to eating healthfully in no time.

Plan out your meals.

If you have a set meal for each day of the week, you won’t be tempted to eat out or snack on junk food. When planning your meals, follow these healthy tips:

  • Opt for smaller portions
  • Incorporate greens/veggies into every meal
  • Use fresh food or frozen over canned
  • Buy cheaper cuts of meat – these are great in casseroles, stews or stir fries, all of which make lots of leftovers
  • Incorporate healthy meals that work in a slow cooker to save time
  • Replace meat with other proteins like legumes, beans, hemp seeds, eggs or canned fish
  • Replace dessert with fruit

Strategic grocery shopping

It’s time to go shopping! The key here is to make a grocery list with a budget in mind and stick to it. Also, never go shopping hungry. It’s easier to avoid processed food temptations on a full stomach. Stock up on sales and buy generic brands to cut costs. Coupons are a good way to save on healthy food, but they’re often hard to find. Buying in bulk and later dividing your food into portions also can save you money.

To be sure you’re purchasing healthy food, stick to the outer edges of the grocery store, where you will find fresh produce, meats, dairy and breads. There are always exceptions, of course, but try sticking to the 80:20 rule—80 percent of the grocery cart from outside the aisles, 20 percent from inside the aisles—for a healthier diet. When you’re doing your produce shopping, be sure to look for in-season items which are typically cheaper.

Prep your pantry

There also are things you can do at home to eat healthy and save money. By prepping food the same day as you go grocery shopping, you are set to eat healthy meals for the next week or two. When you’re putting your newly prepped food and groceries away, store the healthiest food in the front of the fridge. Pre-packaging snacks also will help you eat less, meaning you have to buy less of your favorite snacks too.

Trust me, you don’t have to break the bank to eat healthy!

Dr. Enriquez is a pediatrician at Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers.

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