Happy new year! If you’re like millions of people, you’ve just made resolutions to improve your health and finances.
First: good job. There are two areas in our lives we have control over: what we eat and how much we spend on food. You can’t easily change your mortgage or car payment, but we can adjust our food choices and expenditures starting today.
I’ve heard every excuse in the book about why it’s impossible to eat healthfully on a budget. Here’s some tough love from the Diva.
■ I’m too busy! Instead of saying “I’m too busy to provide healthy meals for my family” say “I don’t make it a priority to provide healthy meals for my family.” How does that feel? We all have the same 24 hours in a day and we make time for what’s important to us. If your schedule is so packed you can’t feed yourself, it’s time to rethink your obligations.
■ I never know what my schedule is going to be, so meal planning never works for me. Planning is most essential for those with erratic schedules. Plan busy day meals by cooking extra on the weekend. Use the slow cooker in the morning to have meals waiting at the end the day. If you’re all on different schedules, stock your freezer with single-portion, healthy meals available on demand, like homemade soups and casseroles.
■ Healthy foods are too expensive. Foods that offer a powerhouse of nutrition yet are inexpensive should be the bulk of your diet. Here is a list of healthy foods that cost less than $1 per serving: Whole chicken, canned tuna and salmon, eggs, plain yogurt, peanut butter, beans, lentils, brown rice, oats, whole wheat pasta, sweet potatoes, kale, cabbage, salad greens, carrots, apples, oranges, bananas, frozen vegetables, frozen berries, almonds, black and green teas, coffee and sparkling water.
■ I don’t know how to cook. Like to eat? Well, learn to cook. While you’re learning, teach the whole family. It’s the greatest gift you can give them. The world is awash in recipes and tutorials on TV, online and in old-fashioned cookbook form.
■ Cooking all the time is overwhelming. I feel ya. It isn’t fair for one person in a household to do all the cooking when everybody eats. Delegate cooking and cleaning up afterwards to other family members when appropriate. Even a toddler can help put dishes in the dishwasher.
■ Cooking from scratch takes too long. If you have time for fast food, you have time to cook food. Gather a handful of simple recipes that take 20 minutes or less and keep your pantry stocked with ingredients to make them. Take a little help from the store by purchasing precut raw vegetables or a rotisserie chicken.
■ I don’t have time to clip coupons. Good. Don’t. Most coupons are for name-brand processed foods anyway. And often store brands at regular price are still cheaper than name brands on sale.
■ My family only likes fast food and convenience foods. If your child was going outside and eating dirt, you’d stop them, right? Well, stop them from eating foods that damage their health. Food choices are important. Every bite we consume creates the building blocks from which our bodies grow and repair. We literally are what we eat. You may need to gradually wean your family off the junk while introducing healthier options, but their health depends on it. Do it.
Make your financial and physical health a priority in this new decade. If you don’t have time for the things that are important, stop wasting time on things that aren’t.
Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is a recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at firstname.lastname@example.org.