close   X

healthcare locations

Search Locations

close   X

3/29/12blog post

eating healthy on a budget

Eating a healthy diet may seem hard on a budget, but smart buying can make stretching your dollar work for your wallet and your health. Healthy eating can help prevent heart disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer. It can make you feel more energetic and boost your mood, not to mention the wonderful effects on your waistline. Whether you’re making healthy changes for the first time for health reasons or to help your family get the nutrients they need to grow up strong, these tips can make eating healthy within a budget easier.

Rule number #1 – Buy more fruits and vegetables. Produce has the amazing phytonutrients that are disease fighters and contain LOTS of vitamins and minerals necessary for improving health.

Aren’t fruits and vegetables more expensive? They don’t have to be!

Buy what is in season. Check out your grocery store sales and stock up on the fresh produce while they have it. Buying exotic and out of season is what adds up. Don’t forget about frozen and canned options as well. These are packaged quickly after harvest and still retain all the nutrition as fresh!

Here are some tips for seasonal shopping:

Spring: Apricots, Bananas, Broccoli, Cabbage, Green Beans, Honeydew Melon, Lettuce, Mangos, Mushrooms, Onions and Leeks, Peas, Pineapple, Rhubarb, Spinach, Strawberries

Summer: Apricots, Bananas, Beets, Bell Peppers, Blackberries, Blueberries, Cantaloupe, Cherries, Corn, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Garlic, Grapefruits, Grapes, Green Beans, Honeydew Melon, Kiwifruit, LimaBeans, Mushrooms, Peaches, Peas, Plums, Radishes, Raspberries, Strawberries, Summer Squash and Zucchini, Tomatillos, Tomatoes, Watermelon

Fall: Apples, Bananas, Beets, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Carrots, Cranberries, Garlic, Ginger, Grapes, Mushrooms, Parsnips, Pears, Pineapple, Pumpkins, Sweet Potatoes and Yams, Winter Squash

Winter: Bananas, Grapefruit, Lemons, Mushrooms, Onions and Leeks, Oranges, Pears, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes and Yams, Turnips, Winter Squash

View a seasonal produce chart on our Pinterest page!

Rule #2 – Choose whole grain options. Whole grains offer more benefits than the refined versions including more disease fighting power, fiber for fullness and they are full of flavor! Buy grains in bulk when able to save money and steer away from prepackaged items that have added salt and/or sugar. Buy items such as whole wheat bread on sale and place a loaf in the freezer for later.

Choose bulk bags of brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, barley, oats, whole wheat flour, whole wheat or whole grain pasta and bread.

Want to learn more about whole grains, check out

Rule #3 – Buy low fat dairy and lean meats. The fats that are from animal products are not the ones that are good for our hearts. Choose leaner versions to avoid these unhealthy fats and don’t forget about other good plant sources of protein such as beans, nuts, soybeans and lentils. These can be used to replace some of the meat you might normally eat at a meal.

Choose skim or 1% milk, fat-free yogurt, cream cheese or sour cream, choose reduced fat cheese and softer, lighter cheese for less fat, low-fat cottage cheese and eggs.

Choose leaner cuts of meat such as ‘round’ or ‘loin’. Trim or drain any fats and discard. Buy lean cuts of deli meats such as turkey, ham or chicken instead of salami or bologna. Prepare meats in healthy ways such as baking, broiling, roasted, grilled or poached instead of frying.

Enjoy your food and spend time choosing the best options for you and your family!

Want some healthy recipes? Dayton Children’s has lots!

About the author:

Marisa VanSchuyver has been working at Dayton Children’s Hospital since 2009 with the diabetes and endocrinology team. She has previous work experience in pediatrics at OU Medical Center Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma. She earned her master’s degree in nutrition from the University of Oklahoma and is certified in pediatric and adolescent weight management. She has special interest in supporting breastfeeding and its benefits to mother and their children.