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Eat better, spend less
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IT'S POSSIBLE to eat the delicious, heart-healthy, Mediterranean diet on a budget, new research shows.
That's important to know, because many Americans are cash-strapped after the holidays, and at the same time vowing to eat better during the New Year.
Junk food is cheap, but if you know how to plan and shop, you can eat a mouthwatering variety of fruits, green salads drizzled with olive oil, grilled fish and chicken, all on the same shoestring budget that many people spend on cheese puffs and sodas.
Don't just take it from me; take it from Canadian researchers who worked with 73 regular, everyday women.
Dietitians taught classes on nutrition and cooking and met with the women individually to help them eat healthier, regardless of cost. But throughout the six-month program, interviews with the women about what they paid for their food showed eating well was economical.
The results, published in the Journal of Nutrition, showed although the women bought more produce, beans, nuts, fish, chicken, and olive oil, they spent less on red meat, sweets and fast food.
The results: grocery bills remained the same. The women consumed more vitamins and fewer calories, all for the same amount of money, about $8.80 per day.
SPENDING EVEN LESS
I think the amount the women spent is high, and that you can eat well for even less.
In September, I wrote a column complete with menus and price checks and found that a person could eat generous portions of healthy food for only $6 per day.
Eating well may appear to cost more at first--for instance, it does cost more when you buy your first bottle of olive oil. But the daily cost of that teaspoon or so of oil a day averages out to be inexpensive over time, because you buy only one bottle of olive oil every few months.
Interestingly, the Canadian study showed that women who didn't plan meals were the ones who spent a bit more trying to eat well--about 25 cents more a day.
This shows that taking 15 minutes to sketch out a weekly menu and shopping list can save money all week.