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Healthy Eating on a Budget . Created by Lindsay P. McDaniel, Dietetic Intern and Lindsey Willis, RD Modified by Jenna Steffen, medical student University of Nebraska Medical Center. Stay Healthy . Don’t sacrifice good nutrition when you’re on a budget

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Healthy eating on a budget l.jpg

Healthy Eating on a Budget

Created by

Lindsay P. McDaniel, Dietetic Intern

and Lindsey Willis, RD

Modified by

Jenna Steffen, medical student

University of Nebraska

Medical Center

Stay healthy l.jpg
Stay Healthy

  • Don’t sacrifice good nutrition when you’re on a budget

  • Don’t think healthy foods are always more expensive

  • Do know your food groups

  • Do know what foods are the cheapest

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  • Whole grains are better for you:

    • Try whole wheat bread instead of white bread

    • Try whole wheat pasta instead of white pasta

    • Try brown rice instead of white rice

  • Budget friendly grains: potatoes, oatmeal, pasta & rice

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Fruits & Vegetables

  • 5 servings per day

  • Eat colorfullyto get a wide variety of

    vitamins & minerals

  • Budget friendly fruits & vegetables: canned & frozen vegetables (store brand), seasonal fresh fruits, whole carrots, head lettuce

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  • Low-fat & fat-free dairy are better for you:

    • Try milk instead of other drinks like soda

    • Try skim, 1%, or 2% milk instead of whole milk

    • Skim or 1% milk is now recommended for kids as well

  • Budget friendly milk: fat-free (skim) or low-fat (1-2%) milk

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Meats & Beans

  • Lean protein is better for you:

    • Try fish or poultry instead of beef

    • Try baked, broiled, or grilled meats instead of fried meats

    • Try beans or peas – these are GREAT budget friendly, healthy proteins!

  • Budget friendly foods that fit this category: eggs, beans, canned tuna, most meats

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  • Limit intake of sweets & fats:

    • Try cooking with olive or canola oil instead of vegetable oil

    • Try fruit for dessert instead of other sweets

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Plan Ahead

  • Decide on 4-5 dishes for the week

  • Make a shopping list & stick to it!

  • Check out store ads for specials – but decide if you really need the items

  • Don’t impulse buy

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Shop Smart

  • Avoid shopping when hungry, tired, or in a hurry

  • Shop the perimeter of the store first – this is where you find the freshest & cheapest foods

    • Items in the middle of the store (aisles) are more processed = more cost

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Shop Smart

  • Limit snack and dessert items – adds cost but does not provide many nutrients

  • Buy store brands – cheaper & tastes the same!

  • check expiration dates to make sure food will stay fresh

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Stock your kitchen

  • Keep dry goods on hand:

    • pasta, rice, cereals, herbs & spices

  • Stock up when on sale:

    • Frozen foods & food in cans and jars last longer

  • Buy some items in bulk – if you can store it & use it before it expires

  • Buy small amounts of perishable items:

    • fresh fruits and vegetables, milk

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Mix Meals Up

  • Include different colors, flavors & textures

  • Plan to have foods from at least 3 of the

    food groups at each meal

    -Example: Chicken, rice and broccoli

    or milk, oatmeal, and fruit

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Cook Once, Serve Twice

  • Most cooked foods/dishes can be stored

    safely for 3 – 4 days in the refrigerator

  • Use leftovers creatively

  • Freeze small portions of casseroles, stews, soups, meats, etc.

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Avoid Fast Food or Eating Out

  • Making meals at home saves money

  • Fast food & eating out is:

    • Less nutritious

    • Costs more

    • Can take more time

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Example of Budget Breakfast Meals

  • Egg on an English Muffin with a slice of cheese= less than $2

  • Oatmeal with dried fruit, canned fruit, or fresh fruit = less than $1

  • Cereal with skim milk= $1

  • Fruit with yogurt= less than $2

  • Eggs with whole grain toast= less than $2

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Examples of Healthy Snack Ideas

  • Fruit

  • Yogurt

  • String Cheese

  • Cheese with Crackers

  • Peanut butter with banana sandwich

  • Pretzels

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Example Recipe – Baked Ziti


1 (16 ounce) package ziti pasta

24 ounces ricotta cheese

1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese

1 egg, beaten

1 (32 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and rinse.

In a medium bowl, mix ziti, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, egg and 1 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish and spoon in ziti mixture. Top with remaining spaghetti sauce, followed by Parmesan cheese.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes; let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Makes 7 servings.