By Pat Salzer

Filling your plate with healthy foods can be challenging, especially as prices rise at the grocery store. But there are ways to keep the nutrition high and the costs low. Set yourself up for success by following the 4 P’s: Plan, Purchase, Prep, and Plate.

Plan your meals for the week by considering which items are on sale, and what is already in your pantry and fridge. Planning will ensure a more productive trip to the store.

When shopping for groceries, stick to your list and avoid impulse buys. The grocery store is the gateway to your kitchen—invite in only healthy foods.

A little preparation can go a long way not only in stretching a dollar, but also in ensuring that healthy options are ready when the hunger hits. Prep some overnight oats for an easy grab-and-go breakfast, and have sliced vegetables handy for a quick snack or faster meal prep.

What you put on your plate matters. During meals, keep salad and vegetables on the table and main dishes on the stove. When we go for seconds, we are more likely to grab the foods that are within reach.

Keep costs down
When preparing a recipe, use what you have on hand and make substitutions as needed. Green beans can be swapped for asparagus, and sweet potatoes for squash. Extend the life of herbs by cutting off the bottoms and placing them in a glass of water. Expensive greens, such as romaine, arugula, and escarole, can be cooked and stored in the fridge so they last longer. Freeze leftover items such as tomato paste, cooked rice, and bananas. Frozen bananas are great when added to oatmeal or blended into a frozen dessert.

Contrary to common belief, shopping the inner aisles is encouraged. There, you will find less expensive items with longer shelf lives that often are packaged in bulk. Look for healthy choices such as oats, canned vegetables, peanut butter, and brown rice. Frozen and canned vegetables are processed at the peak of freshness and can have more nutrients than fresh vegetables that are past their prime.

With a little extra effort, and the 4 P’s, you can eat healthy foods, stick to your budget, and keep soaring food prices from slimming your wallet and inflating your waistline.

Pat Salzer, RD, is a wellbeing engagement consultant at Univera Healthcare.