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Sustaining a Healthy Diet with a Limited Budget

With little time and money coupled with few kitchen equipments, it is not always easy to have a healthy and varied diet in a country like Norway. Here are some inexpensive tips on how to eat healthily.
Sustaining a Healthy Diet with a Limited Budget
A healthy diet is one that helps maintain or improve health. It is important for lowering many chronic health risks, such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and cancer. Photo : Jeff Butterworth

Ready-made and processed foods are often more expensive than meals you can make by buying the ingredients yourself. In addition, making your own food with fresh ingredients is beneficial since fresh foods are often more nutritious, and where many fully and semi-cooked products have lower nutritional values and contain more fat and salt.

Do you eat like a king at the beginning of the month, but you end up with spaghetti and ketchup in the last half of the month? You should then improve your eating and shopping habits according to the Helsedirektoratet’s suggestions.

Choose green keyhole-labeled foods

A healthy diet should contain carbohydrates in the form of starch. Good sources of these carbohydrates are found in many of our daily consumed foods and can be affordable. Properly adjusting your eating habits according to these golden rules is important in obtaining a well-balanced diet: - Eat grain cereals without sugar, and oatmeal with low-fat milk or skimmed milk, and with preferably fruit or berries instead of jam.

- Eat wholegrain bread daily - that is, bread that contains more than 50 percent wholegrain flour. For example, these breads labeled grovt brød(wholewheat bread) or ekstra grovt brød(multi-grain or extra whole-wheat bread) according to the Brødskala’n, or the label system that determines the grain content. Whole meal or wholegrain products are an important source of dietary fiber, which is good for digestion, as well as B vitamins and iron.

- Do not ignore potato. The potato contains many vitamins and minerals and is an important source of vitamin C. You can choose boiled or baked potatoes. Fill the potatoes with something healthy, you then have a complete dinner.

- Go for brown rice and whole grain pasta. Also, instead of buying expensive ready-made pasta sauces, you should make your own sauces. Do not hesitate to experiment with tomato, vegetables, herbs, chicken and fish. Rice and pasta are high in starch, but have fewer of the other important nutrients compared to potatoes. Although rice and pasta are inexpensive, tasty and convenient, it should not always replace the potato in your diet.

Rich sources of protein

Pure red meat where you can cut away the visible fat is both lean and nutritious. White meat, e.g. chicken or turkey, is a fine alternative to red meat. Buying these foods in larger quantities is usually more affordable. Also, do not forget to limit the amount of red meat and processed red meat products to 500 grams per week. If you have a freezer, go ahead and make larger portions than what you usually eat for one meal, then freeze the rest for later. Remember to cool the food

quickly and freeze it in small portion packs. Egg - is quick to prepare and can come in many varieties. Omelets with vegetables can be a complete and inexpensive dinner. Scrambled, boiled or fried eggs are also good on bread, and boiled eggs can be used in salads. Mackerel in tomato sauce and sardines in a can - are good sources of both protein and omega 3. They can be used in pasta sauce and salads. Beans and lentils - dried lentils and beans are other good and inexpensive sources of protein.

Fruit and vegetables

It is recommended that everyone should eat at least five servings of vegetables, fruits and berries every day. Half should be vegetables.

You can alternatively use fruit and vegetables as toppings to main course. Tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, banana and apple are good selections. Vegetables should be cooked in a small amount of water to keep their nutritional values. One thing to keep in mind in buying fruits and vegetables is to buy them in season. This will save money as well as giving you more delicious ingredients.

Again, if you have access to a freezer, freezing vegetables can be a good economic alternative, and only reduces the vitamin content of vegetables minimally.

Fish, fish, fish

It is healthy to eat fish. Eat fish for dinner two to three times a week. Fish is quick to prepare and contains a lot of omega 3 fatty acids. This applies particularly to fatty fish, like mackerel, salmon, trout, halibut and herring. A simple and inexpensive alternative is to eat fish pudding, and canned mackerel and sardines in tomato sauce.

Water is healthy and free

Clean water is the best thirst quencher and Norwegian spring water is usually of such good quality that it is not necessary to buy expensive bottled water.

Milk contains many nutrients, including calcium which is important for bones. Calcium content is the same in skim, extra light, light and whole milk, and if you choose the first three variations you get calcium with a lot less fat.

No time to cook dinner?

Having dinner instead of simply snacking creates better variation in your diet. If you do not have time to cook dinner every day, it is in fact much better to eat bread for dinner, than to have a quick hot dog or hamburger. Actually, it is easier to prepare a healthy and good dinner by having only a few basic tools such as a couple of good knives - vegetable knife, bread knife and a meat knife, cutting board - one for vegetables and one for raw meat, potato peeler, a couple of pots with lids, frying pan and a couple of bowls

The Nordic Page Magazine - November
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