10 budget-friendly tips for eating heart healthy

March 21, 2022 | by Mary Gardner, RD, LDN

Research has long shown that what we eat is important for keeping our hearts healthy. But some people hesitate to even try a heart-healthy diet, assuming it will crash their food budgets.

While it’s certainly possible to spend a lot on food, there are many ways you can tame those expenses.

Below are some tips that might work for you:

  1. Focus your spending on a varied diet of foods that are minimally processed, rich in nutrients, and low in saturated fats and added sugars.

  2. Planning is key. Before you go to the grocery or discount store, think through your meals for the next several days and make a list. Include items you can stretch into multiple meals. For example, if you have a small family, a plump rotisserie chicken can work for two different dinners that week.

  3. Avoid shopping hungry to avoid impulse selections of tasty, but unhealthy, snacks and other items.

  4. Try a variety of protein sources, such as salmon and other fish, poultry, low-fat dairy products, lean meat, nuts and beans.

  5. Go lean. If you choose to include a moderate amount of red meat in your diet, look for lean cuts that are on sale and buy in bulk. These cuts are often good candidates for your slow cooker.

  6. Look for seasonal fruits and vegetables in your grocer’s produce section. Fresh produce costs less when in season. Choose foods that are high in nutrients, such as sweet potatoes, berries, avocados and green, leafy vegetables.

  7. Check your labels. The frozen food aisle offers some healthy, economical vegetable options, but check the Nutrition Facts labels for added sodium. Vegetables from a can also might have too much salt, but you can rinse them before heating. Look for “no salt added” canned goods, such as beans. Avoid canned fruits with heavy syrup.

  8. Sometimes bigger is better. Shop grocery store sales and use coupons, buying enough of a sale item so you can freeze a portion for a later date. If practical for your family, buy certain items in bulk at a big box store.

  9. Be smart about leftovers. Have just a small amount of yesterday’s vegetables left? Add it to tomorrow’s stir fry, casserole or soup. Extend that meatloaf with some oats, beans or other veggies.

  10. Have more dinners at home and consider packing a lunch. You can still enjoy eating out but maybe not as often as you have in the past. Most fast food menu items are not good for your heart thanks to high levels of salt and unhealthy fats. Sit-down restaurants offer more options, but they tend to serve double- or triple-sized portions. A solution at these venues is to take about half your meal home and enjoy it for dinner the next night, or split a meal with a friend.

With just a few smart strategies for meal planning and shopping, it’s possible to enjoy heart-healthy, varied and delicious meals that won’t break the bank.

Learn more about healthy eating and get healthy recipes.

Learn more about heart and vascular services at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

Related blogs:

5 recipes your heart will love

9 tips that will transform your food shopping

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