6 Affordable Ways to Jump Start Your Diet

Healthy eating need not be expensive, one nutrition expert says.

ByABC News
January 19, 2009, 10:43 AM

Jan. 21, 2009— -- Weight loss is the most frequent New Year's resolution. This probably shouldn't be too surprising, considering that stress eating, holiday overeating and increased alcohol consumption results in an average of five to six pounds of holiday weight gain.

What is different this year is that the economic downturn has caused almost everyone to become price conscious. As people cut food spending, it is feared that they will cut back on healthy but relatively expensive items such as fresh fish, fruit, vegetables and whole grains in favor of cheaper choices.

But fast foods or cheap packaged junk foods are not the solution! Fortunately, eating foods that foster weight loss does not have to be an expensive proposition. It's possible to lose weight and lower your food bill at the same time.

The following are a few options to help you reach your weight loss goal and also save money. The idea is to select nutritious foods and eliminate high-cost junk foods.

Protein is necessary to build and repair cells. Protein also keeps us from feeling hungry.

Fresh Alaskan salmon is great for health, but it's pricey. The cost for wild sockeye salmon can run as high as $14.99 per pound.

Affordable option: Canned salmon is pretty much on par with fresh salmon nutritionally, and it costs much less. Bumble Bee Alaskan salmon will run you only $3.19 for a 13-ounce can.

And take this to heart: An Italian study showed that people who eat fresh or canned salmon twice a week were 30 percent less likely to have had heart attacks than those who ate fish less than once per week.

Recipe to Try: Salmon Croquettes



Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Shape into patties and cook in small amount of olive oil until browned lightly. Serve on greens with sliced mango or sliced orange. Note: The patties can be made in advance and stored in air tight container in the refrigerator for two days; take out and heat.

Organic, free range sirloin burgers are delicious, but expensive.

Affordable options: How about mixing one pound of ground sirloin with red beans, vegetables and seasoning to make a hearty winter chili? This recipe will feed two people for two meals, stretching your dollar.

Meatloaf is another good choice. One pound of sirloin, along with whole grain breadcrumbs, wheat germ, two eggs, onions, carrots and spices will supply protein, fiber, vitamins and heart-healthy omega-3 fat.

Because the cost for one pound of ground sirloin is about $4.99, the total cost for two people for two meals with either of these options is approximately $6.

Omega-3 eggs are an inexpensive source of protein and heart-healthy fat. Egg white, in fact, is the only 100 percent protein food. Plus, eggs are delicious for both breakfast and lunch.

Affordable option: Try an omega-3 omelet with low-fat mozzarella cheese and asparagus. The cost for a dozen omega-3 eggs is $3.19, or 27 cents per egg. So the total cost for an omelet is approximately $1.20.

And here's a fun fact: In the White House, Eleanor Roosevelt frequently served scrambled eggs for a light Sunday dinner.

Recipe to Try: Omega-3 Omelet



In an omelet pan, add small amount olive oil and heat for two minutes. Then add beaten eggs, stirring and tilting pan to allow eggs to set throughout. When eggs are set, add the cooked asparagus and cheese, fold over onto plate.

Legumes are an inexpensive source of plant protein. Navy beans, white beans, small red beans and lentils are all good sources of plant protein, vitamin B complex and nutrients.

Here's a fact: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration found that of all foods, the richest source of anti-oxidants was small red beans. Very inexpensive.

Affordable options: White bean and escarole soup; one bowl packs in 12 grams of protein, is high in B complex vitamins and has only about 200 calories -- great for a light and filling lunch.

Also, black-eyed peas are associated with prosperity when eaten early in the year. Is it because we save so much money when we buy them? Black-eyed peas with brown rice and red peppers make a delicious light dinner. The cost for legumes varies between $1.59 and $2.59 for 16 ounces, so the total for two people for two meals is less than $2.

Recipe to Try: White Bean and Escarole Soup



Cook the beans according to package directions. Then add the chopped escarole to beans. If you like tomatoes, they are delicious in the soup. Cook lightly and serve.

Soups are ideal for those who need to lose weight. In fact, studies have shown that dieters who ate soup lost more weight than those who did not.

Chicken or vegetable broth (canned is fine) add vegetables and a protein source. Plus, they are delicious and easy to make!

Affordable option: Chicken soup with vegetables gives you the opportunity to use any leftover chicken or vegetables rather than throwing them away. Cost for organic chicken is $3.99 per pound, or about $14 for a whole bird. A whole chicken will provide several meals if you have roasted chicken the first night and then use the remainder for chicken soup with vegetables. Total cost for two people eating organic chicken soup is less than $3.

Recipe to Try: Left Over Chicken Soup



Sauté onion and garlic together until onion is translucent. Then stir in the chopped carrot and celery and cook 10 minutes, to blend flavors. Stir the chicken into this and cook five minutes more. In a large pot, pour in the chicken broth, left over vegetables, chicken mixture and tomato paste. Cook partially covered over low heat for 30 minutes.

Fresh vegetables and fruit are expensive. Frozen vegetables have the same benefit if they are free of additives, salt and sauces. Just be sure to look at the ingredient list: if it says anything other than the vegetable you desire, keep looking.

Recipe to Try: String Beans with Basil and Grape Tomatoes



Cook the string beans according to package directions; do not overcook as overcooking will reduce the nutrient content. Drain the cooked string beans. Heat the olive oil in small pan, then toss in the cooked string beans, chopped basil and tomatoes. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Dr. Jana Klauer's private practice specializes in nutrition. She is author of "The Park Avenue Nutritionist's Plan."