In these time of soaring gas prices and rising grocery and medical bills, many find it impossible to make ends meet. With a little ingenuity and planning you can eat well and maintain a healthy life style while still watching the dollars.
The greatest challenge for many people especially older citizens is the choice between whether to purchase medication or food. And certainly this is not just a challenge for older citizens but for younger people as well especially those with small children and others just trying to raise families.
Eating Healthy on a Budget
It may certainly be a challenge to eat healthy and stay within your budget but it can be done with some quick planning. And while these tips may be all to familiar and we’ve heard them all before, it is certainly time now (given these economic times) that begin to put them into practice.
Before you Shop:
• Make a shopping list. Plan out weekly meals and only buy what you need.
• Check the local newspaper for grocery ads. Check for sales at your local supermarket and clip coupons accordingly. Take advantage of ‘double’ coupon days. Remember that many manufacturers coupons can also be printed from the internet.
• Limit pre-packaged junk foods such as sodas, chip, cookies and frozen meals. They tend to be more expensive and higher in calories. (As always and as we have always been told ~ fresh fruit and vegetables make a better choice for snacks and tend to be less expensive).
• Always, Always, Always eat before you go food shopping this will help you to avoid impulse buying and impulse buying can wreak havoc on your grocery budget.
Consider these other Budget Stretching Tips:
• Choose lean cuts of beef which are lower in fat and cost less (less expensive cuts of meats can be cooked to perfection in a crockpot)
• Poultry such and chicken and turkey are low in fats and calories. Choose whole chickens and cut them up yourself (pre-cut chicken is generally more expensive). Ground turkey is an excellent substitute for ground beef and is generally less expensive.
• Consider trying dried beans and peas instead of meats for some meals. Beans are a great source of fiber and protein and cost less. Try using Chicken Stock or Vegetable Broth in place of water; this ads excellent taste without having to add meat to the recipe.
• Trade your cereal for oatmeal. Oatmeal is a health grain costs about $4 a box and will last much longer than a box of cereal. Oatmeal has also been shown to help lower cholesterol-so how neat is that…
• Visit your local farmer’s market where local produce is cheaper than at the grocery stores and many times even fresher.
• When shopping compare store brands to name brands. Store brands are cheaper and generally taste the same (tip: Many store brands are made by the same manufactures that make the name brands ~~ Same Can Different Label)
• You may also consider a dietary supplement that will help to more efficiently absorb the nutrients that take in from food.
Ways to Save on Medications
If you are looking for ways to cut back on your medication spending ~ try following these cost-saving tips:
• Try Generics. Talk with your doctor about switching to generics. Generics are safe and effective. Additionally, the average copayment is less than half of the brand-name copayment for most health plans. Take advantage of lower-cost generic programs offered by pharmacies at Wal-Mart, Kroger, Target and K-Mart.
• Use Mail-Order. If you would like to use mail –order, you will generally need a 90-day prescription from your doctor with at least 3 refills. With most health plans you will get a three month supply for the cost of only two months after you mail in your payment and prescription. Check your particular health plan for specific benefits.
• Optimize your Dose. As your doctor or pharmacist whether you can take a higher dose of your medication once a day rather than multiple times a day. You can also ask your doctor if it would be safe to split certain medications (many are already scored).
• Be an Informed Consumer. Research information and do not be afraid to discuss your concerns with your doctor or pharmacist.
Note: You may consider speaking with your doctor about adding a dietary supplement to help enhance your overall health and well being. There are also supplements that can help you to more efficiently absorb the nutrients that you take in from food.
Stay Active ~ Walk to Fitness
If you can’t afford a gym membership or expensive exercise equipment, walking is one of the most effective ways to keep fit and it is easier on your joints than most forms of exercise. A regular period of walking at least 30-60 minutes at least four or five times a week is a good way to reap the benefits of exercise. Remember these tips before you begin your walking sessions:
~ Do a five minute warm-up of regular walking
~ Continue with a period of faster walking that will raise your heart rate
~ Take a five minute cool-down period of regular walking
~ Stretch after walking
If you haven’t exercised in a while, start slowly and work your way up to 30-60 minutes. Always remember to speak with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
Eating well, staying healthy and keeping fit really is possible, even on a budget.
To Your Continued Health and Success!