Get more bang for your summer food buck

Published 10:37 am Thursday, August 1, 2013

Column: Dietitian Speaks, by Amy Pleimling

Despite what most people think, it is possible to eat healthy and save money.

There are healthy economical foods located throughout all the grocery store aisles. Now that the kids are home on summer break and more people are traveling, planning out your meals and snacks ahead of time can help you make healthy choices while saving money.

Amy Pleimling

Amy Pleimling

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For example, making breakfast sandwiches ahead of time rather than stopping at a fast food place or a convenience store. For lunch, pack a homemade Lunchables made up of mini Triscuits, low-fat cheese slices and Jennie-O turkey slices for less money than a turkey and cheddar Lunchables, plus you save extra calories, fat and sodium. For a healthy snack bar, choose a Kashi peanut butter bar, which costs less than a Snickers bar. The Kashi bar offers more fiber, protein and less sugar than the Snickers bar. Here are three tips for eating healthy and saving money while traveling.

Before you buy a product, check the ingredient list on the package. The first few ingredients listed are the primary ingredients in that food. Consider what you are paying for. Are you buying mostly sugar, refined flour and sodium — or whole grains, fruits and vegetables?

Start packing in advance. To save on last-minute preparation, begin making and freezing food prior to your trip; as a bonus, the frozen food will help keep your cooler cold during the trip.

Make and freeze sandwiches in zip-top bags or get your kids involved by making homemade trail mix and muesli. You can start months in advance and store foods in zip-top bags in the freezer. You could also measure out the recommended serving size in a plastic cup, mark the line with a permanent marker and toss the cup into the bag. Now you have a “measuring spoon” to scoop out perfect portions while on the road.


Cheapskate muesli

All you need:

4 cups uncooked old-fashioned oats

(NuVal: 59)

half cup oat bran

(NuVal: 69)

half cup wheat germ

(NuVal: 99)

half cup chopped peanuts

(NuVal: 23)

quarter cup sunflower seeds

(NuVal: 38)

quarter cup ground flaxseed or chia seeds

(NuVal: 91)

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 cup raisins or dried fruit of choice

(NuVal: 87)

For serving:

20 containers (6 oz.) non-fat vanilla yogurt or 6 ounces non-fat yogurt of choice, per each third cup serving

(NuVal: 91)

Fresh fruit, if desired

All you do:

1. Combine oats, oat bran, wheat germ, peanuts, sunflower seeds, ground flaxseed and cinnamon in a bowl or zip-lock bag. Stir well to combine.

2. When ready to serve, combine third cup muesli mixture with 1 (6-ounce) container non-fat yogurt. Stir well to combine. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. Serve.

Alternate preparation: Combine oat mixture and yogurt. Cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, add additional milk to thin, if desired. Serve with sliced bananas, fresh berries, chopped fruit (apples, pears, nectarines or plums work well) or a mixture of fruit.

Yield: approximately 20 servings

The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.


Amy Pleimling is the dietitian for the Albert Lea Hy-Vee grocery store.