The following article was written by Heinen’s Chief Dietitian, Melanie Jatsek RD, LD.
Are you under the impression that healthy eating is expensive? Many people believe this to be true, and unfortunately it keeps them from making better choices for themselves and their families.
You could argue that junk food is easier on the wallet, and I won’t disagree; however, the cost of healthcare is astronomical when we fail to take care of ourselves. To say that largely preventable diseases, like heart disease and type 2 diabetes are expensive is an understatement.
According to the American Diabetes Association, people with diagnosed diabetes incur average medical expenditures of $16,752 per year, of which about $9,601 is attributed to diabetes. On average, people with diagnosed diabetes have medical expenditures approximately 2.3 times higher than what expenditures would be in the absence of diabetes.
When you look at it through this lens, $3.00 for a bunch of kale is pretty affordable, isn’t it?
Speaking of kale, did you know that pound-for-pound, greens supply more nutrition than any other food? That’s right! Nutritionally speaking, a lovely leafy green salad topped with your favorite veggies for lunch is far less costly than a “value meal” at the corner fast-food joint. With the salad, you get an abundance of vitamins, minerals, fiber and disease-fighting antioxidants. The cheeseburger with supersized fries and soda? Salt, sugar, unhealthy fats and preservatives!
So, how do you make greens more affordable? By eating them!
Schedule Greens into your Weekly Meal Plan
Add at least two different varieties of greens to your cart on your next trip to Heinen’s and commit to fitting them into, your meal plan. This is key because as you know, those greens aren’t going to jump out of the refrigerator and prepare themselves! Here are my favorite ways to fit greens in my meal plan:
- As a side salad or main dish. Try this Kale Blueberry Salad with Pecan “Cheese”! It’s my personal favorite because it holds up beautifully in the refrigerator for several days. Hello leftovers!
- As a smoothie ingredient. I always blend a handful of fresh or frozen greens into my lunch smoothie.
- As a nutritional boost to side dishes. Lightly sauté greens and add to hot veggies or side dishes. This Kale & White Bean Skillet is on the table in 20 minutes!
- Stuffed inside of wraps. Sandwiches without greens are a lost opportunity. Hearty greens like fresh spinach, arugula and kale make great additions to your favorite sandwich. Try a fresh new recipe like this Cashew & Sprout-Stuffed Nori Wrap.
Look Beyond Fresh Greens
Perhaps you’re on an extra tight budget or are seeking more convenient ways to incorporate greens into your meals. Look no further than Heinen’s Frozen Food Department! Here, you can find frozen spinach, kale and collard greens.
Did you know that plain frozen fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious (and sometimes even more nutritious) as their fresh counterparts? Because they are picked at their peak and then flash frozen, their vitamin and mineral content remains intact. So, go ahead and use Heinen’s frozen spinach in this Double Chocolate Cherry Smoothie, or whip up a batch of Meatless Spinach Meatballs on pasta night (extra points for serving it with a leafy green side salad!).
The best health insurance is self-care. Being physically active, drinking plenty of water and following an Fx-style meal plan full of leafy greens, vegetables and fruits will not only save you money in the long run, but will also add quality and joy to your years. Now that’s what I call living!