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January 19, 2013

Healthy food choices can be affordable

Ada —  

Next to the mortgage or rent payment, many Oklahoma residents are finding that food is high on the list of monthly expenses.

With the current economic situation, some Oklahomans may be turning to fast food dollar menus or unhealthy selections at the grocery store because those choices seem to tread lighter on the wallet.

It is vital for people to realize they can make healthy choices while sticking to their budgets. When shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables, always look for what is in season. These selections are much more cost effective than off-season choices. Remember fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrients. A person needs to consume five to six servings of fruit and vegetables per day as part of a healthy diet.

Also consider using frozen fruits and vegetables. Frozen fruits and vegetables may be less expensive than the off-season fresh varieties. In addition, frozen foods also have a longer shelf life than their fresh counterparts.

Rice and pasta also are economic choices at the grocery store, not only because they are not expensive but they also have a long shelf life and there are so many different ways in which to use these pantry staples.

Foods such as chili, soup, stir-fry, tacos and stew are easy to make and are cost effective.

Because stew typically cooks for several hours, cheaper cuts of meat can be used. The prolonged cooking time makes the meat very tender. Leftovers can easily be frozen and used at a later date. Also, you can go the vegetarian route with different varieties of soups and stews. Using less meat can be very cost productive.

Cooking most of your food at home not only saves money, but it is usually healthier than eating out. It is easy to control ingredients such as salt. Many restaurant items contain more salt than what is recommended for a healthy diet. Although consumers may believe that the dollar menu at the local fast food restaurant is inexpensive, the price that is paid from a health perspective can be staggering.

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