Rebecca Cripe: Eating healthy on a budget | Recipes

A common barrier to eating healthy is cost. Here are some tips on how to stretch your dollar at the grocery store to incorporate more healthy foods.

Plan your meals. Meal planning is good for your budget because you’ll be shopping for preplanned meals rather than buying food you may not know what to do with. Use the food groups as your guide: grains, protein, dairy, fruits and vegetables. A meal should have at least three of the five food groups with one always a protein (meats, seafood, eggs, beans/legumes, nuts and seeds).

Examine what you eat at meals and fill in the gaps. For example, if your dinner consists of meat and potatoes, add a third food group by cutting up fruit or adding cottage cheese. Check for food groups and recipes.

Control your portions. When adding balance to a meal, make sure you have the recommended portion. Each food group should fill a quarter of a 9-inch plate dinner plate. Add an 8-ounce glass as a serving of milk or juice to your meal.

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Make a list. Sticking to your meal plan can help control how much you spend. Make a list before going to the store and stick to it.

Find the discounts. Sign up for your local grocery store weekly sales promotions and use it to meal plan. There are apps that will give you money back if you submit the receipt after shopping.

Cook at home. Dining out is expensive. When you are meal planning, consider the days you may have less time to cook and plan for a quick meal that day. Check out for recipes.

Drink more water. Have you seen the beverage aisle lately? There are so many flavored beverages, and they are much more expensive than water. Water is your preferred beverage for your body. Drink more water and make other beverages an occasional treat.

Buy less meat. Beans and legumes, such as black beans, chickpeas and lentils, are less expensive than meat and a nutritious protein source. Try a meatless meal once or twice a week such as black bean burgers or chickpea tacos. You can also reduce the amount of meat in a recipe and fill in with beans. Beans also have fiber, which aids in fullness. This quicker sensation of fullness can help with portion control.

Buy in season. Your local grocery store may have a list or resource book of vegetables and fruits in season or visit

Don’t shop on an empty stomach. It can be hard to stick to your grocery list if shop when hungry and you may be more likely to make impulse purchases. Eat a meal or snack before your trip to the grocery store.

Easy black bean burgers recipe

  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. lime zest
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil

In a food processor, process beans until mashed. Transfer to bowl and add egg, breadcrumbs, zest and spices. Mix well to combine.

Divide into 4 patties. Heat oil on griddle. Cook bean patties on one side for 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Flip and cook on the other side for the same time.

Serve on bun with provolone cheese, red onion slices, lettuce, tomato and condiments as desired.

Nutrition analysis (for bean patty only): 225 calories, 9 grams fat, 5 grams fiber, 8 grams protein, 25 grams carbohydrate, 466 mg sodium

Rebecca Cripe is a Gundersen Health registered dietitian.


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