We heard from people who find it challenging to eat healthy on a budget. It’s such a great question and many folks, especially students, want to eat well and struggle with where to start. Some of you may feel that you have no choice but to buy more expensive processed foods because you believe you can’t afford good nutrition. There are many ways you can stretch your food dollar without sacrificing your health. Here are just FIVE tips to help you get started with making the most of your food dollar and eat well.
Plan your meals Planning menus ahead lets you buy just what you need and stay on budget. It’s also a good way to avoid wasted food and help you lower you food costs. Planning reduces the time and stress of unplanned shopping trips and last minute dilemmas ‘what’s for dinner’. Before you go shopping think about what foods you’d like to eat/prepare. Know your food budget and adjust your menus as needed.
Prepare a shopping list. Studies show that keeping a running grocery list is a great way to stay on track – it jogs your memory, saves money at the store, saves time too. It also keeps you from buying what you don’t need. Bottom line: Write a list and STICK TO IT.
During Covid 19 many people prefer a paper list so they don’t have to handle their phones in the grocery store. When you prepare your list organize the items you need by category to match the store layout – for example, produce for veg and fruit, dairy, meat, bakery , frozen and grocery. We created this terrific Be Well Efficient shopping list that you can download from our website to help create your shopping list. Clicking on this link and then the image for your copy of the Be Well! Efficient Grocery Shopping List.
Stock up on healthy staples that are on sale. Check for grocery store deals. Look for healthy food items on sale – fresh or frozen vegetables, fruit, canned beans, canned fish and meats and poultry. Dried foods are also budget friendly like dried beans, pasta, rice and oatmeal & they keep for a long time. If you like quiona buy it on SALE. Take advantage of local / seasonal produce. The price may be lower depending on where you shop. Fruits and vegetables are frozen at their peak of freshness so they are just as nutritious as fresh. You can easily add frozen or canned veggies to main dishes like casseroles and stews. You can also use frozen fruits in oatmeal, yogurt, baking and smoothies. Great choices include any dark green or orange like edamame (which are soybeans that boost protein content), peas and carrots or dark coloured berries.
Cook once eat twice. Plan meals to make more than what you need today and enjoy the leftovers in another meal the next day. Cook extra whole grains like quinoa or barley for dinner and make a salad bowl recipe for lunch. If you eat meat and find lean cuts on sale consider buying a bit extra, roasting it and then incorporate it into another meal later. Look for recipes from Registered Dietitians that give you tips for using leftovers in your next meal.
Store food properly Which uneaten food do you throw out most often? Did you know that the most wasted foods in Canadian households are vegetables (30%), fruit (15%), and leftovers (13%) of total waste. So if you toss vegetables and fruit or leftovers in the trash then you’re like many Canadians. By eating the food you buy and storing it properly you will save money and reduce waste. If you find it challenging to be mindful of food storage here are some tips you could consider:
Butternut squash and sweet potatoes are excellent sources of the antioxidant beta carotene. They’ll last for at least two weeks.
Leafy greens tend to wilt within a week. So, shop and plan your menu accordingly.
Apples spoil 10 times faster in the fruit bowl than in the fridge.
Potatoes like a cool, dark spot so they don’t soften and sprout.
Keep cooked food in the fridge for 3-4 days and if you can’t eat it, freeze it for later use.
Visit our website for more tips and insights. Follow us on IG! @LuciaWeilerRD @SueMahRD @Nutrition4NonNutritionists
Your immune system is always on guard against attacks on your body. Attacks could come in many forms including virus, bacteria or even cancer cells. If your immune system trips up, you could become more vulnerable and even ill. In terms of nutrition, there are many nutrients that are involved with the normal functioning of the immune system. The immune system is sophisticated ‘team’ with many ‘players’ involved. The best performance in defending your body happens when all ‘players are present’ and ready to do their job. That is why health experts recommend to promote your own immunity follow an overall healthy eating plan.
With Covid19 there seem to be a lot of questions about nutrition and immunity so here is a closer look at the basics.
No diet, supplement will cure or prevent disease. Good hygiene practice and physical distancing remain the best means of avoiding COVID19 infection.
Almost all nutrients help the immune system in one way or another; however some nutrient deficiencies may be more harmful to immunity than others. Malnutrition and deficient intakes of many vitamins and minerals are associated with lower disease resistance. Among the nutrients well recognized for their roles in building immunity are Protein, Zinc, Vitamins A, C and E. Below we profile these nutrients of interest that support general immunity but emphasize the bottom line: Eat a variety of healthy foods each day in order to support immune function.
Protein helps build and repair body tissues and forms antibodies. Antibodies are protective proteins produced by the immune system to fight foreign substances in the body.
Eat protein foods at each meal. Recommendations for most adults are to aim for 20-30 grams of protein at every meal. Examples of protein rich foods include fish, shellfish, poultry, lean meat, legumes (beans, peas and lentils), tofu (edamame), eggs, nuts, seeds, greek yogurt and cottage cheese.
Vitamins and Minerals:
All vitamins and minerals promote good health and many protect against infection and diseases. Research suggests that certain vitamins and minerals may have bigger roles in immune health. Examples include Zinc, Vitamins A, C, E. For most people, however, there is no good evidence that taking more of these nutrients than what you can get from a varied healthy diet will improve your immune system. For reference, here is some information about vitamins/minerals of interest for immune health.
A wide variety of foods contain zinc. By far, oysters have more zinc per serving than any other food. More good sources of zinc are lean meats, fish or poultry, beans, nuts, whole grains, cereals (fortified) and dairy products
Vitamin A is naturally present in many foods and most people get enough Vitamin A from the foods they eat. The most active form is retinol, a fat soluble vitamin found in animal foods such as meat, poultry, fish and dairy products. Beta carotene which converts to vitamin A in the body is found in yellow, orange and dark green vegetables and fruits.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid is found in fruits and vegetables. Among its many other roles, Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant that helps protect cells against damage. You can get recommended amounts of vitamin C by eating a variety of foods including citrus fruits (such as oranges and grapefruit). Red and green peppers and kiwifruit also have a lot of vitamin C as do other fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin E is found in many foods. In the body, it acts as an antioxidant that helps protect the tissues from damage. Rich sources of Vitamin E include vegetable oils (wheat germ, sunflower, safflower), nuts (peanuts, hazelnuts, almonds), seeds (sunflower), fortified cereals.Watch our one minute VIDEO summary and tips on the immunity challenge here:
National Institutes of Health (NIH) 2020 Health Information Facts
Health Canada (2019) Nutrient Function Claims
Duyff Academy of Food and Nutrition (2017) Complete Food & Nutrition Guide
Sizer et al (2017) Nutrition Concepts and Controversies
Getting in and out of a grocery store fast is more important than ever during the COVID19 pandemic. Health experts ask us to stay at home as much as possible which means limiting the number of shopping trips to a minimum. Once you arrive at the grocery store keeping a safe 6 foot distance from others is a new skill for many people including myself. It’s also important to navigate the aisles efficiently. Somehow it doesn’t seem OK any more to forget something and have to run back through the store to find it.
To help you stay well we created an efficient grocery shopping list. We really like this template because it prompts meal planning so you buy only what you need. We also limited the number of items to make your trip more manageable. You’ll notice the list is organized in categories that follow the grocery store layout to help you get in and out of the store fast.
Here is how you can use it:
Create a meal plan.
Before going to the grocery store consider the meals you’d like to make in the upcoming week. Make a note of the most important items you need in case your trip is stressful and you don’t get through your whole shopping list.
Complete your efficient grocery shopping list *
Print out a copy of the Be Well! Efficient grocery shopping list (see link below) and keep it in your kitchen. You can ask others you live with to help complete the list so everyone contributes to the eating plan. When the list gets full, you’ll know it’s time to go shopping.
Navigate the aisles efficiently
When you arrive at the store pick the aisles with the least number of people and keep your physical distance 6 feet from others. Make your way through the store quickly and efficiently. Because your shopping list is short you won’t need a pen to check off the list.
You can protect yourself from COVID-19 by preventing the spread of germs. Although there are not many studies on COVID-19 specifically, scientists suggest that what we know works against other coronaviruses could work against this new strain too. Well known food safety cleaning and sanitizing practices can kill many different kids of harmful germs that cause disease. Consider these expert tips for cleaning and sanitizing surfaces you use for food handling and preparation to reduce your risk of COVID-19 exposure.
3 Food safety rules to sanitize kitchen surfaces
CLEAN: Remove dirt by washing down surfaces using warm soapy water & rinse with clean water.
SANITIZE: This step reduces the harmful germs to safe levels on surfaces so illness is less likely to occur. Before preparing meals food safety pro’s make sure that counters, cutting boards and work surfaces are sanitized first. Chemicals approved as sanitizes for food-contact surfaces in food-service are chlorine, iodine and quaternary ammonium. Diluted chlorine bleach is a very effective sanitizer that is easy to make at home too. You can make your own sanitizing spray using 1 tsp (5 mL) bleach for every 3 cups (750 mL) of water. (Ministry of Health & LTC Ontario) This sanitization method works for both plastic and wooden cutting board, taps, sinks and other surfaces. (Note: Bleach is NOT recommended for marble or stone countertops!)
AIR DRY: Let surfaces air dry or dry with a clean disposable paper towel.
Food is essential and unites us all. You may have some questions about how to eat, prepare and shop for food during these uncertain times. Here are top five COVID-19 related food and nutrition Questions and Answers to help you manage. Dietitians are registered health professionals who translate the science to deliver reliable life-changing advice. What’s your food and nutrition question? Send them to us here or via social media Twitter/Instagram @Nutrition4NonN
Q 1: Can I get sick with COVID-19 from touching food or food packaging? A: Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. Like other viruses, it is possible that the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on surfaces or objects. For that reason, please be mindful when shopping. If you touch it you buy it! Also continue to follow general food safety advice including these:
Wash hands thoroughly after handling shopping bags and before preparing food.
Clean food preparation surfaces with soap and water.
Wash fresh food well before eating it, especially if you eat the skin and are not cooking it.
Cook meat thoroughly and separate cooked and uncooked foods.
Refrigerate cooked food within 2 hours and at eat leftovers within 3 days or put in freezer for later use.
Q 2: Can I boost my immune system through my diet?
A: Simply put, you cannot “boost” your immune system through diet, and no specific food or supplement will prevent you catching COVID-19/Coronavirus. Good hygiene practice remains the best means of avoiding infection. Many nutrients are involved in the workings of a healthy immune system and dietary recommendations are to eat a variety of healthy foods each day to support the body’s immune function.
Q 3: Can eating garlic help prevent infection? A: Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties, however, there is NO evidence that garlic protects people from COVID19 infection.
Q4: How do I wash my hands properly?
A: With soap and water (warm and cold are both OK). Take your time…20 seconds and use the WHO approved techniques shown in this image:
Q 5: What could I do to prepare for Covid-19 food-wise? At this time, it makes sense to stock up on non-perishable food items so that you do not need to go shopping if you become sick, but avoid panic buying. Add a few extra items with a long shelf life to your grocery cart that are easy-to-prepare foods you already enjoy.
Veggies & Fruit – any of fresh, frozen, canned are OK. Fresh carrots, potatoes, onions, squash, beets and cabbage tend to last longer at room temperature.
Grains – dried pasta, rice, oatmeal, popcorn
Protein – canned or dried beans, canned fish, meat, powdered milk or shelf stable milk alternatives.
Ready to eat, heat and serve foods are OK. Veggie soups, ready to eat frozen meals can help fill the gap.
You can still ENJOY your meals; COOK more often, EAT TOGETHER in your home as much as possible while practicing social distancing.
Keep well and remember it is important to get information from credible, trustworthy sources during this time. Dietitians are regulated health professionals committed to providing evidence-based advice and information that is tailored to your personal needs and challenges. For the latest and most up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit Health Canada at www.canada.ca/coronavirus