Eating Well On a Budget: Part 4 - Grains
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Eating Well On a Budget: Part 4 – Grains

Posted on Friday, December 7th, 2012 at 8:00 am
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Eating Well On a Budget: Part 3 – Vegetables

Grains are fantastic because they are available in several varieties and can be enjoyed in countless ways! Whether you’re cooking up some grains as a side dish, or you’re making it the center of the meal, your body and your taste buds are in for a treat! The Environmental Working Group has compiled a list of 8 grains that provide you with the most nutrition at the lowest cost. All of these grains are loaded with nutrients, but contain very little sugar, so you don’t get that groggy feeling when you’re done eating. The Environmental Working Group recommends spending about $4 on grains for every $25 spent on your overall food budget.

The Environmental Working Group’s list of grains include: oatmeal, puffed whole grain, shredded wheat, bulgur, and brown rice with barley, puffed corn and toasted oat cereal being considered the best value. Additional grains not listed include bread, quinoa, white rice, pasta, etc.  When shopping for whole grains, it’s important to ensure that the word “whole” is the very first ingredient listed. “Multi-grain” or “wheat” isn’t the same thing as “whole grain.”

Not only are many grains delicious, but they pack quite the nutritional punch! They contain fiber, B vitamins, iron, and are low in added sugar. Luckily, there are so many ways to enjoy grains because they are available in several varieties. You can choose to get them from a piece of toast, from your favorite pasta dish, from rice, oatmeal, and more!

If you’re looking to enjoy some oatmeal or puffed whole grain cereal for breakfast, be sure to check the nutrition facts before you buy. You want your breakfast grains to be low in sugar, contain at least 3 grams of fiber per serving, and doesn’t include more than 210 mg of sodium per serving.

Bread and pasta are an easy and delicious way to add some grains into your diet. Try getting your family used to whole wheat pasta or bread instead of the bleached white stuff. If your little ones start out eating it, they won’t crave the white pasta or bread. If they’re already used to it, try slowly introducing them to whole wheat by substituting half of your traditional pasta with whole grain pasta. With bread and pasta, pick the variety with the lowest sodium content. You also want to shoot for at least 2 grams of fiber per serving in bread and 5 grams in pasta.

The great thing about several grains is that you can buy them in bulk since they have a long shelf life when stored properly. Items like rice, pasta, cereal, or oatmeal can often be found in many health food stores unpackaged and ready to be purchased by the pound. Not only is this usually cheaper, but you’ll be helping out the environment by not using up cardboard or paper packaging!

Next up: Eating Well On a Budget: Part 5 – Protein

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Good Tip: Saving money is important – especially if you have a lot of expenses like bills to pay, loans to pay off, and all the other things that drain your bank account. Figuring out a way to save money can feel tedious to some, and like a punishment to others. U.S. News suggests that you try one of these money saving challenges. The “No Eating Out for a Month” Challenge This one is self-explanatory. The goal is to avoid eating out for an entire month. This might be super easy for people who enjoy making meals at home. People who really enjoy dining out, or ordering food to be sent to their home, may struggle with this one. It’s worth a try because spending money on take-out is more expensive than buying groceries. The Pantry Challenge This one is a variation of the “No Eating Out for a Month” challenge. The goal is to use up all of your groceries before you buy more. It forces you to try and remember why you bought a food or beverage that you don’t know what to do with, and gives you the opportunity to find a way to use it. The one exemption to this challenge is the foods that have expired. Don’t eat them! Throw them in the trash. The “No Spend” Challenge Make a goal to avoid spending money during an entire weekend. The only exemption in this challenge is that you are allowed to pay bills. This challenge is interesting because it requires creativity. You must be creative and find workarounds for problems that you would typically solve by spending money. You may have a different outlook on spending after finishing this challenge.