Focused on Fitness: Shopping healthy on a budget

Local News

It’s a common misconception that eating healthy has to be expensive, but choosing healthy options at the grocery store doesn’t have to break the bank.

If you’re looking to make some healthy changes to your diet, the produce department is the best place to start. You can’t go wrong with eating more fruits and vegetables, but often times fresh produce eats up a large portion of our grocery budget. It’s important to resist the urge to buy in bulk. You should only purchase what you need.

Registered Dietitian Rebecca Turner said, “When you’re buying less pounds, you’re paying less per pound. You’re still getting the healthy food, but you’re saving at the checkout counter because you’re not buying as much.”

Portion control is key. When it comes to picking out the perfect apple, potato, avocado or other type of produce, your hand is the best tool to ensure that you’re buying the correct portion size.

Turner said, “You want to make sure they fit comfortably in your hand. Also, when you think about picking up a grapefruit, you’ll probably see that its two serving sizes because it’s much larger than your hand.”

Protein is also an important part of a well-rounded diet, but chicken and beef often come with a steep price tag. For a less expensive protein, you should go to the can aisle. Turner said beans really do pack the protein.

If you’re on a budget, canned foods are a great alternative. The one thing you should remember when shopping in the can aisle is to buy the low sodium option.

These may seem like small adjustments to your grocery shopping routine, but they’ll have big impacts on your health and budget! To get you started, here our a few recipes from Registered Dietitian Rebecca Turner that are both healthy and budget friendly!

Spicy Sweet Potato Dip:

Turn your favorite Mississippi root vegetable into a spicy dip with added flavor from sriracha sauce, salsa, fresh lime juice and shredded pepper-jack cheese.


2 large sweet potatoes (about 1.7 pounds)

1-2 tablespoons sriracha sauce (it’s spicy!)

2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice

2-4 tablespoons salsa

½ cup shredded pepper jack cheese


Cook sweet potatoes in microwave, oven, or crockpot.

Remove flesh from sweet potato. Discard skin.

Combine all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.

Serve with whole-wheat pita chips, or vegetables.

Sautéed Kale, Mushrooms and White Beans

Perfect as a side dish or main entrée, this warm salad is sure to hit the spot. The white beans provide protein and heart healthy fiber that helps feel you up.


1 large head of kale, cleaned well, trimmed of stems and cut down to bite sized

1 small onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup of sliced mushrooms

1 cup white beans, drained and rinsed

Olive oil

Salt, pepper, garlic powder, crushed red pepper, to taste

1-2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar


Start by giving your fresh kale a good massage. Sprinkle a little salt and spritz with a little olive oil and then work it with your hands. This helps make it less tough and much more tender to eat cooked. Only takes a few minutes.

Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat in a skillet and add your garlic and onion. Sauté by stirring frequently for several minutes. Add your mushrooms, sprinkle a touch of salt and pepper and allow them to brown 3-4 more minutes. Add your greens to the pan and season with a touch more of salt, pepper, garlic powder and crushed red pepper. Allow the greens to cook down for 3-5 minutes, turning them periodically.

Add the tomatoes, beans and wine. Cover and cook down for 5-7 minutes, stirring periodically. Once everything is well combined serve on its own, as a side dish, or over rice.

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