Healthy, whole foods can be expensive, but with planning and the right choices you can eat well even on a budget. Try these money-saving tricks for wholesome, tasty meals:

Have a plan. This will help you save money and stay on track with healthy choices. Make a grocery list. Check store sales flyers, and try to plan meals around what’s on sale. You might stock up on sale items you use regularly.

Use vegetables to “bulk up” dishes such as stews, casseroles, stir-fries, burritos, and omelets. Shop for produce that’s in season to save money, or use frozen veggies. Cabbage, carrots, and sweet potatoes are low cost year round and taste great in most dishes.

Add beans, lentils, and peas. These protein-rich foods are inexpensive, healthy, easy to prepare, and taste great added to pasta sauce, rice, soups, and sauces.

Try nuts. Peanuts, almonds, and other nuts affordably add protein, crunch, and texture to dishes including stir-fries, sandwiches, rice and pasta dishes, and yogurt.

Skip convenience foods. Items like individual yogurts, shredded cheese, and bagged salad tend to cost more. You can save money if you can do a little prep work.

Avoid junk food. Soda, fruit juice, chips, cookies, and other processed foods are usually pricey and provide little nutrition.

Cook large portions and use leftovers. For example, you could cook chicken with fresh or frozen vegetables in a crock pot as meal one. Meal two, you might add the cooked, chopped chicken and veggies to tortillas along with fajita seasoning, sour cream, salsa, or avocado. For meal three, create fried rice by combining cooked brown rice and a scrambled egg to the rest of the chicken and veggies along with Asian spices. You could also freeze leftovers in smaller sizes for future meals.

Cook at home. Eating out even one time a month can burn up your budget. When you cook meals yourself, you also tend to eat healthier.

Pasta Primavera

Serves 4

Recipe courtesy of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

You can tweak this simple but yummy pasta dish with seasonal veggies: shelled green peas, asparagus, green onions, spinach, and even butter lettuce will add the freshness of spring!

8 ounces dry, whole-wheat spaghetti

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon garlic, minced (about ½ clove)

4 cups mixed cooked vegetables, such as mushrooms, red pepper strips, broccoli florets, carrot sticks, or green beans

15½-ounce can no salt added diced tomatoes

1 5½-ounce can low-sodium tomato juice

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese


In a 4-quart saucepan, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil over high heat.

Add spaghetti and cook according to package directions. Drain.

Meanwhile, combine olive oil and garlic in a large sauté pan. Cook until garlic is soft, but not browned (about 30 seconds).

Add vegetables and cook until vegetables are soft, but not browned (about 3 to 5 minutes).

Add diced tomatoes, tomato juice, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add spaghetti and parmesan cheese. Toss until the pasta is hot and well mixed, and serve.

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Take Medicines the Right Way: Follow Directions

Taking your medicines as prescribed for you is very important to treating illness and preventing complications. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports that more than half of Americans don’t take their medicines as prescribed, often because they forget, don’t take it seriously, or don’t like the side effects. Your health depends on you taking medicine in the right way. To highlight Patient Safety Awareness Week (March 10 to 16), here are tips for taking medicine correctly:

Read the directions on the label. Talk with your primary care provider (PCP) or pharmacist about how much you should take and when.

Do not skip doses. Taking too much or too little medicine can put you at risk of complications or cause serious damage. For example, you must finish antibiotics completely. Even though you are starting to feel better, bacteria may still be alive in your body. Those germs could form a new strain and make you sick again. Be sure to talk with your PCP before you stop taking your medicines.

Do not share medicines.

If you are an AmeriHealth Caritas District of Columbia member and have questions about your medicine, call our 24/7 Nurse Call Line at 1-877-759-6279.


U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Plan Your Weekly Meals”

National Institute on Aging, “10 Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget”

U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “Use Medicines Wisely”

All images are used under license for illustrative purposes only. Any individual depicted is a model.

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WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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