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Eating Healthy on a Budget

Sep 12, 2016
Menu Monday
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Healthy Eating: Good For Your Wallet, Too

As many of us find ourselves eating more meals away from home, it’s becoming more and more important to make healthy food choices. However, healthy food choices and restaurant pricing do not always go hand in hand. Luckily, with the demand of healthy food options and restaurant business growing, there are a few hacks to make healthy food choices while dining out without breaking the bank.

Budget
Source: Visa

Choose healthy restaurants

It's easy to get sucked into a drive-thru when we are on the go, but unfortunately, they're not always the healthiest. Look for restaurants in your area that offer healthy choices and quick service. I often frequent a locally owned and operated restaurant when I am out and about for lunch. Not only do they offer local, fresh food choices, but they are also quick to serve since I am a “regular.”

Shop for deals or coupons

Sometimes, we pre-plan eating out for a special occasion and already know where we will be dining. This works to your advantage. Simply shop for deals or coupons for the dining establishment of your choice in local magazines or newspapers, on the restaurant's website, or even online at daily-deal websites like Groupon or livingsocial.

Keep it simple

Restaurant menus can sometimes make you go crossed eyed with the numerous options available. Before glancing at the menu, simply decide what healthy option you are in the mood for. This will prevent your eyes from wandering through the endless choices on the menu and perhaps getting distracted by an unhealthy option.

Substitute

This is one of the most popular ways to make a typical meal healthier. More often than not, a main entree is served with a less nutritious side option like fried french fries or tater tots. Don’t give up your healthy eating goals without checking out your other options. Many restaurants will offer sides like steamed broccoli, wild rice, mixed vegetables, baked potatoes, fruit or yogurt.

Think about your food groups

Ensuring you have appropriate amounts of lean protein, nutrient-dense carbohydrates, and healthy fats is a key factor to eating healthy in a whole. When eating out, look for meal options that encourage balance and nutrition, like a piece of salmon on brown rice with a side salad. Try avoiding foods loaded with carbs like pastas or fatty pieces of meat like a giant double cheeseburger.

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Source: Fashionet Passion

Share a plate

Portion control is a struggle for many of us, and restaurants are known for serving portion sizes too large for one person. Try sharing an entree with someone. It can be fun trying to decide which healthy entree interests both of you. If you find that the entree isn’t as generous of a portion than you may have originally thought, then add a side or two. Sides like a baked potato or steamed vegetables are typically healthier options and cost less than buying two entrees.

Choose the obvious healthy options

The endless menu options of restaurants can be overwhelming. Fortunately, the demand for healthy meal choices has forced restaurants to make it easier to choose healthy options. Many places label or even offer separate menus for foods that are gluten free, low sodium, low-carb, or low-calorie.

Focus on preparation

Sometimes, the preparation of food is what makes it unhealthy. The obvious one is meats that are fried versus grilled, or the loaded mashed potato versus the plain baked potato. Adding oils, breading, and extra toppings is unnecessary to enjoy your food and will certainly deter the nutrition points. So, when you opt for the vegetable side instead of french fries, ask for them to be steamed rather than sauteed in butter.

Look at the whole menu

Often times, we neglect the food choices that are not labeled as the main entree. When looking over the food choices, do not skip over the appetizers and sides. Many food establishments offer side salads, vegetables, or mixed fruit which can be paired nicely with a less expensive, healthy appetizer or small entree.

I hope these tips help you achieve your health goals without hurting your waistline or wallet!

– CASEY EDMONDS, CHC

Email Casey

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