Eating Healthy on a Budget – Tips for Seniors

Putting the right foods in your shopping cart is the first step in taking control of your diet – but don’t think of it as ‘a diet’. Think of it as warding off heart disease, boosting your immune system and improving your life.

Whether your doctor has suggested watching fats and carbs, or you’ve decided that it’s time to shop healthy, get a pencil – you’ll need it for tip number one!

These are ten sensible and healthy shopping tips for seniors:

Make a list

Have a weekly meal plan in mind as you prepare your grocery list. Itemize breakfasts first, then lunches, dinners and snacks. Sticking to your list will help you avoid impulse buying.

Visualize the food groups

Keep the USDA food guide ‘MyPlate’ in mind as you make your list. It’s easy to visualize – fruits and vegetables make up half the plate, grains and proteins are the other half, and dairy is in the cup next to it.

Remember your coupons

Put coupons in your wallet the minute you get them and take advantage of double coupon days, a good time to stock up.

Avoid the crowd

If you are retired and no longer stuck shopping on weekends when everyone else is at the store, take advantage of it. Make note of stock day and shop early the next morning. You’ll get the freshest produce and will also avoid disappointment in finding your favorite coffee has been sold out!

Shop the perimeter first

Have you noticed that produce, dairy, meats and breads are around the outside of the grocery store? By making a wide circle you’ll find most of what you’ll need for your weekly meal plan.

Don’t forget the freezer

Frozen fruits and veggies are a must, particularly when fresh produce is higher priced in winter. Having bags of frozen berries and mixed vegetables is convenient when cooking for just one or two.

Next the aisles

These are a few healthy favorites for the pantry:

  • Tuna packed in water – for healthy salads, sandwiches and casseroles
  • Beans – an alternative to meats for the protein. Use them in soups, chili, casseroles or as a side dish
  • Canned tomatoes and sauces – for spaghetti dishes, chili and soups
  • Pastas and rice  – they go with almost anything or may be added to soups or casseroles. Try whole grain rice and vegetable pastas for healthy alternatives to plain white
  • Peanut butter – a must for sandwiches and as a snack with apples or celery. Have you tried peanut butter on waffles? Delicious!
  • Honey – for your tea rather than sugar, and the perfect companion to peanut butter or on whole grain toast.
  • Oatmeal  – instant packets make a quick filling breakfast or a late evening snack, topped with vanilla yogurt, nuts or fruit.
  • Popcorn – for watching TV or sitting on the deck with a cup of tea
  • Olive oil, canola oil and flavored vinegars
  • Coffees, teas a hot chocolate

Things to avoid

Avoid pre-packaged foods that include more than 5 ingredients like all-in-one casserole mixes and instant meals – they’re generally high in sodium and in price!

The junk food aisle can be tempting but for late evening cravings, chips and dip won’t help your waistline. Instead try a dish of fruit with vanilla yogurt, or air popped popcorn topped with Parmesan cheese and garlic, delicious!

Don’t shop hungry

Everything will look tempting when you’ve got the growlies, and if it’s not on your list – you probably don’t need it.

Try something new!

Don’t rush through shopping. Be a little adventurous – next time you’re in the produce section, pick up a fruit or vegetable that you’ve never tried.

The bottom line is be prepared and relaxed. Your goal is to make the best possible choices for a happier, healthier you!


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