Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 3rd 2014 Contents A28
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, June 3, 2014
MANUFACTURERS / IMPORTERS /
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When it comes to eating healthy,
most people picture markets, fresh
fruits and most importantly, money.
But eating healthy doesn t have to be
expensive, even if you re making min-
imum wage. And if you think the cost
of food is the only thing standing
between a dinner of chicken breast,
quinoa and a salad or a Big Mac, think
Working 40 hours per week, min-
imum wage earners could find them-
selves with little more than US$100
per week for food, making fast food
and other unhealthy, but cheap, items
attractive. But minimum wage earners
are more likely to be obese than higher
earners, according to a 2010 study pub-
lished in the Journal of Occupational
and Environmental Medicine, indicating
they are precisely the group that would
benefit most from a healthy diet.
If you re living on minimum wage
and want to eat better, here are six ways
to eat greens without spending a lot---
in fact, experts say eating healthy will
actually save you money down the line.
Plan accordingly: Healthy eating
starts well before you get to the grocery
store, says Ruth Litchfield, associate
chair and professor in the department
of food science and human nutrition
at Iowa State University. Litchfield took
part in the SNAP Challenge in March
where she spent a week with the food
budget of someone who receives Sup-
plemental Nutrition Assistance Program
benefits, formerly known as food
stamps. For her week, she had a food
budget of only $84 for her family of
three, but found that surprisingly, her
budget wasn t the biggest issue.
"It takes a lot of planning," Litchfield
says. "People think it can t be done
because of the cost of healthy food,
but the constraints are more about time.
The time it takes to look at what s on
sale, plan your menu and actually pre-
pare the food is incredibly consuming."
Litchfeld sat down with all the weekly
flyers from her neighbourhood stores,
scouring them for sales. During her
challenge week, she found chicken
hindquarters on sale---a ten-pound bag
for $10. "Once I saw that, I knew that
would have to be the prominent protein
for the week," she says. "I planned all
my meals around it."
Do the math: Just because something
is cheaper, doesn t mean it s the best
value, Litchfield says. Figure out the
price, then divide by the weight of the
item you re buying to determine its unit
cost. Use that to compare the true cost
of two products.
"I was looking at buying a pineapple,"
Litchfield says, "and even once I
accounted for how much I was going
to cut off and throw away, it worked
out to be a better bargain than frozen."
Fresh isn t always better. Don t be
scared off from frozen fruit. Some is
just as good frozen as it is fresh and
lasts much longer to boot, says Kathy
Wright, nutrition programme director
at Mansfield University of Pennsylvania.
Berries freeze best, she says, and offer
a great opportunity to stretch your dol-
lar by avoiding costly spoilage. Paw
paw, mangoes, watermelon, guava and
soursop are some local fruits that can
be frozen when in abundance.
Buy long-lasting foods: If you re
eating healthy on a budget, spoilage is
your enemy. Frozen food can last
months, but not every healthy food
freezes well. So when you buy fresh,
opt for foods that won t spoil quick-
"Apples tend to last a long time,"
Wright says. "Root vegetables such as
carrots, potatoes, turnips and sweet
potatoes have a long shelf life and can
be prepared in a variety of ways. Throw-
ing food away is a huge expense, and
choosing items that are less likely to
spoil quickly allows more opportunity
to put it to use."
And if you find yourself with an
excess of fruit, don t let it go to waste.
If you don t think you ll use it before
it goes bad, turn it into something that
will last---make jam, can it or freeze it.
Cook! With such a tight budget,
there s no room for prepacked or pre-
pared foods, Litchfield says. Cooking
for yourself saves money and can also
leave you with leftovers to eat the next
day or week.
"That s something that the general
consumer may not know how to do,
and may not want to take the time to
do so," she says. "It takes a lot of time
to plan out your menu, bring it home
and cook it, but it s worth it."
Wright adds that you pay a premium
for the convenience of prepared and
prepackaged foods, but there are easy
"Buy large containers of yogurt and
mix in your own fruit or jam, rather
than buying several small containers
of yogurt," she says. "Buying dried beans
is a good value compared to canned
beans, which also tend to be high in
Do it today: While it may not always
be easy, Litchfield says eating healthy
on a budget is a worthy investment in
yourself and in your future. "People
make the assumption that eating
healthy is out of range on their budget,
but it s having the skills to take the
time to figure that out," she says. "A
healthy lifestyle can deter health care
costs down the line." (US News and
Eating healthy on minimum wage
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
"It takes a lot of planning.
People think it can't be
done because of the cost of
healthy food, but the
constraints are more about
time. The time it takes to
look at what's on sale, plan
your menu and actually
prepare the food is
---Ruth Litchfield, Iowa State
have to be
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