When it comes to animal protein, though, Sosna agrees with Johnson and Pugh: Go with high-quality, grass-fed, non-antibiotic, non-hormone-treated and organic whenever possible. The issues with traditional meat are numerous: hormones, antibiotics, fat and protein content, factory farming and feeding practices. The only way to get around these issues, they say, is to pay for better quality — in smaller quantities, if cost is an issue.
Says Pugh: “I see meat more as a garnish. Use it sparingly, but go with high quality.”
Sosna recommends preparing a whole chicken, which can lead to two or three meals including a soup.
Protein, though, can be had in many ways. Johnson suggests nuts, seeds and beans, which can be bought in bulk at places like Costco, where almonds recently were $12.99 for three pounds. That is less than half the price at most grocery stores, Pugh says.
Reasonably priced fish can be found in the frozen section or in cans — such as canned tuna in water, Sosna says. It can be used for “a summer salad of tuna, sauteed kale, shaved carrots, oranges and orange vinaigrette.”
By the way, oranges sell for $5.99 per eight-pound bag at one local grocery store; that’s about 37 cents an orange. Hard to beat.
Another relatively cheap seafood that’s high in protein and omega-12 is the mussel, which Pugh prepares once a week — Mussel Monday — for her family of three. This includes two or three pounds of mussels (about $3.99 per pound), served with scallions and garlic, and paired with a fresh bakery-bought baguette.
“It’s quick, easy and cheap, and you end up with a $15 gourmet meal for three people,” Pugh says.
In the end, eating healthfully sometimes demands a little more of your money and definitely more of your time than TV dinners, frozen pizza or fried chicken. But you either pay now or later, Johnson says. Eating healthfully might cost more in the short term, but in the long term it helps cut medical costs while improving your general well-being, she says, adding:
“What people often forget about the cost of delicious, nutritious food is that the rewards for eating healthy — energy, vitality, long life and glowing skin — are priceless.”
Boston is a fitness trainer and freelance writer. She can be found at www.gabriellaboston.com.
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