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5 Budget-Friendly Nutrition Tips

March is National Nutrition Month. A month to focus on healthy eating, to give our bodies the fuel they need to keep on doing all the awesome things we do. Thanks to the ever-present “value menu” items at fast food chains, it can seem like eating healthy and eating cheap don’t fit hand-in-hand. But if you make careful choices, you can cut down on today’s food costs and tomorrow’s doctor bills at the same time.

5 important tips to save money and feel great this National Nutrition Month

1. Make oatmeal a kitchen staple


Start your day off with a hearty bowl of oatmeal. The fiber in it helps keep us full longer, which means less snacking on unhealthy things throughout the day. Add some protein (milk, yogurt, peanut butter, protein powder) to amp up your energy and increase how long you feel full. (If you’re adventurous, try this egg white whipped oatmeal and let us know what you think!)

Oatmeal is cheap too, and you can buy a big container of plain oats (rather than boxes of pre-packaged flavors) that you can customize for many different breakfasts so you don’t get tired of it. But if you really like the pre-made packets, make your own! Here’s a great tutorial from The Simple Dollar. If you’re one of those eat-on-the-run types (I’m totally guilty of this), try these make-ahead oatmeal bars from 5 Dollar Dinners.

Bonus oatmeal tip: if your oatmeal gets stale, don’t throw it out! It has a ton of non-food-related uses, from beauty masks to odor absorption!

2. Add lentils to your diet


Lentils are in the legume family, grown like peas in a pod. They are one of the cheapest ways to get protein and fiber into your diet, not to mention other helpful vitamins and minerals. And boy are these beans cheap! The average price per cup of lentils (enough for one person) is under a quarter. You could add lentils to every meal this month, just by checking out this link from WiseBread, “25 Tasty and Cheap Lentil Recipes.”

3. Eat less meat


Many times, one of the most expensive items on your grocery list is meat. Cutting down on meat means a lower grocery bill and more healthy veggies and grains in your diet. Plus, beans (like lentils) and eggs are nutritious, cost-effective ways to still get your protein. Many people have jumped on this tip by incorporating “Meatless Monday” into their weekly routine.

4. Substitute fruit for high-calorie desserts


Swap out sugary, nutrition-free cakes and cookies from your menu and opt for fruit instead. It’s a great way to satisfy your craving for a little something sweet while getting in some great fiber and nutrients, without the sugars, fats, and flours that do nothing for your health. Eating a piece of fruit instead of a $4 cupcake or buying the ingredients to bake from scratch will save you money too. But be sure to shop based on the season to save even more, since fruit can be pricey from time to time.

5. Start a garden


If you have the space and the time, indulge your inner green thumb by growing your own food. There's nothing healthier (and cheaper!) than eating a tomato from your own organic garden. Plus, spending extra time in the sun while planting will get you a great workout and a dose of Vitamin D. Start small with herbs or some simple vegetables and you can freeze any produce you'll want for later. Here’s a great article on GetRichSlowly with “7 Tips for Starting Your Own Vegetable Garden.”

Find more delicious recipes that your savings account will love at 5 Dollar Dinners.

Tags: Budgeting, My finances, Spending

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