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Food Security: How to eat healthy on a budget

Eating fast food may sometimes be cheap and fast, but there are ways you can eat healthy meals without breaking the bank.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Today, many of us are living on a budget, and food could be making that harder.

Finding foods that are nutritious, filling, and affordable can be a challenge. Sometimes opting for a greasy cheeseburger is faster and cheaper than cooking and sitting down for a healthy meal, but there are ways you can ditch the fast food lines and still feel full and even more nourished without spending a ton of money.

Rocket City Dietician Rachel Brown says you want to think about packing a nutritional punch. She recommends incorporating dried or canned beans, and canned salmon and tuna into your diet. These are affordable options that will allow you to get in protein, carbs, and other important nutrients.

"Frozen vegetables and frozen fruit. Those still have a great amount of fiber, antioxidants," said Brown "And they're just as fresh or even fresher than the fresh-picked because they're picked at the peak freshness and then flash frozen."

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Avoid junk foods. Chips and sugary snacks are far less filling and nutritious than nuts and fruits. If you are like many people and unhealthy snacks seem to always end up in your cart, one trick is to skip the junk food aisle all together.

Another tip, do not shop when you're hungry.

"Going with a list, planning ahead, eat a good meal before you go shopping," said Brown.

Avoid pre-diced fruit cups and salad mixes. Cut your own produce to save a few bucks.

"Those bagged salads, if you just buy the head of romaine or head of lettuce, cut it yourself, you're going to save a lot of money that way," said Brown. "Also, those baby carrots. You can take the big carrots and cut them into little pieces and you're going to save a lot of money that way."

Along with limited funds, having a lack of time can be a huge hurdle to eating a healthy diet. One simple way to eat healthy, quick meals on a dime is to meal prep or simply just plan out your meals.

"If it's already prepared, it's less food waste," said Brown. "You think about it more, so if you're like I'm going to have this chicken on Monday with some vegetables but you have leftover chicken, you can use that again into like tacos or something later that week."

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Brown says adding more nutrient dense foods to quick meals can go a long way.

Brown said, "If you start with like a helper, like a frozen vegetable and then you have like a packaged pasta meal you already have, you can upgrade that pasta meal with that frozen spinach you add in there or with that frozen broccoli you add in there. Or beans, just adding more vegetables, more fiber to your base that you already have."

When grocery shopping, look out for generic, store brand items. They are typically more affordable than the other name brand products.

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