How We Eat When Times are Tough
When the economy's on the fritz, people spend less on food, most experts agree. But just how they go about cutting back isn't clear; nor is the impact of the economy on diet and nutrition.
Some speculate that rising food costs prompt consumers to eat out less, and cook more meals at home. But are those home-prepared meals likely to be full of produce, whole grains and lean proteins? Or are we just eating more boxes of mac and cheese and Hamburger Helper, processed foods that may contribute to our expanding waistlines without providing much nutrition?
Shoppers may accommodate both their shrinking budgets and their nutrition needs by seeking canned or frozen fruits and vegetables, which are generally cheaper than fresh produce and, because they're packed at their nutritional peak, can be at least as good for you as their fresh counterparts. (But as this report suggests, frozen meals can be costly without delivering as much nutrition as meals prepared fresh.) Meat is relatively expensive; to get your protein and cut costs, try using canned or dried beans as the basis for a meal. Planning your weekly menus and grocery list can keep spending in check; putting leftovers to good use reduces budget-sapping waste.
Now may be the time to lose that extra weight: Some people who go on calorie-restricted diets may find they end up saving money, simply because they're not eating as much as usual. To relieve the stress of hard economic times, don't reach for comfort food, go for a brisk walk. Bonus: It's free!
Another school of thought holds that people under budget constraints will continue to eat out but will opt for less-pricey fast food restaurants rather than more expensive, and potentially more healthful, establishments. The nutritional aspect of that shift, though, is hard to sort out, as many menu choices at, say, McDonald's pack less fat and calories than a typical meal at, for instance, Chili's. (Or, for that matter, the Palm.) That's why requiring chain restaurants to provide nutrition data -- as Maryland may soon do - is especially important as we consider how best to spend our food dollars.
What course are you taking? Are you cutting back on eating out? Cooking more at home? Seeking healthful but budget-conscious recipes? Or splurging on food and cutting back on other expenses?
Jennifer LaRue Huget
March 6, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Family Health , General Health , Nutrition and Fitness
Save & Share: Previous: Can Your Marriage Make You Sick?
Next: Five Facts about Aortic Valve Surgery
Posted by: ztcb41 | March 6, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Jennifer LaRue Huget | March 6, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: obrady | March 6, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: sr_1945 | March 6, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: amileecamper1 | March 6, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: a4853916 | March 6, 2009 6:53 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: ohalvey | March 6, 2009 9:05 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: mmcgowen | March 7, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.