LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–
March is National Nutrition Month, and Health Net, Inc. is sharing tips designed to help consumers serve up nutritious meals while simultaneously stretching their dollars.
The goal of National Nutrition Month is to help increase awareness about the importance of making informed food choices, said Patricia Buss, M.D., medical and health care services operations officer for Health Net. Many are under the impression that healthy eating is expensive. However, the opposite is true. Studies have shown that eating healthy meals not only is beneficial to our bodies, but also actually helps to save money.
Ten Nutrition-Maximizing, Money-Saving Tips
Health Net encourages consumers to embrace these budget-friendly, nutrition-focused tips:
- Make a list and stick to it. Studies have found that an average 60 percent to 70 percent of grocery store purchases are not on the shoppers original list. Not only does that mean paying more at the cash register, but those extra items often are impulsive and non-nutritious. Instead, before heading to the supermarket, plot out a weeks worth of meals, along with whatever ingredients are needed. Once at the store, steadfastly stick to the list.
- Eat before you shop. Before setting foot in the supermarket, make sure your stomach isnt running on empty. Studies have shown that hungry shoppers are less discriminating and more likely to fill their carts with nutrition-poor choices.
- Avoid processed foods. As much as possible, stay clear of processed foods. Processed foods are those that have been altered from their natural state, either for safety reasons or because it makes them easier to store or use. Not all processed foods are inherently unhealthy, but they usually are more expensive. Conversely, unprocessed foods tend to be less expensive and more nutritious. When youre at the supermarket, think in terms of buying fresh ingredients for a delicious meal versus prepackaged meals and snacks.
- Choose cheaper cuts. When you reach the meat and poultry section, dont shy away from less-expensive cuts, such as brisket or chuck roast. Not only are these cuts nutrient dense, but when prepared using a slow-cooking method they also can be among the most tender and flavorful. If fish is on your grocery list, look for Frozen at Sea (FAS), which means its been flash-frozen in as little as three seconds onboard ship. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, thawed FAS fish is less expensive than and virtually indistinguishable from fresh fish.
- Let the season be your guide. Fresh fruits and vegetables are healthy food choices, and they usually are at their most affordable when they are in season. Consequently, become familiar with when your favorite produce is in season and plan menus accordingly. If you see off-season produce, theres a good chance its imported, meaning it costs more than whats grown closer to home.
- Be late to the farmers market. Depending on where you live, your local farmers market may save you money during normal business hours. However, come closing time, sellers often want to unload whatever hasnt sold, and shoppers often can walk away with fresh fruits and vegetables at bargain prices.
- Dont frown on frozen. Its sometimes assumed that frozen fruits and vegetables should be avoided in favor of their fresh counterparts. In reality, though, frozen produce is nutritionally on par and sometimes even superior to the fresh stuff. When opting for frozen, experts recommend selecting vegetables without salt (or at least low in sodium) and fruits packed in 100 percent juice rather than syrup. In addition to the nutritional value, frozen produce at certain times of the year often may be less expensive than fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Stay on budget with staples. Some foods that are both nutritious and perennially low priced should be seen as kitchen staples. Items in this category include: beans, peas, lentils, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, carrots, greens, apples, bananas, eggs, peanut butter, canned tuna, oats, brown rice, barley and quinoa.
- Avoid snack sticker shock. Although store-bought snacks are small in size, they can take a big bite out of your wallet in addition to ranking low on the nutrition scale. Instead, consider purchasing an economy-sized tub of low-fat yogurt and dividing it into small containers of your own. Or create homemade trail mix by combining nuts, dried fruit and whole-grain pretzels, then storing snack-sized portions in airtight containers.
- Make home your default dining location. While theres nothing wrong with dining out occasionally, the majority of your meals should be prepared and consumed at home sweet home. In addition to being less expensive than the dining-out option, home-cooked meals generally have a higher nutritional quotient. Although its not mandatory to cook completely from scratch, be aware that some convenience items like prepared sauces and precut vegetables may come with a higher price tag.
Health Net Members Have Access to Decision Power Services
Health Net members who want help or information on healthy nutrition and fitness practices may access Health Nets Decision Power program thats designed to facilitate healthy lifestyle choices and provide access to Decision Power Health Coaches who can help individuals reach their nutrition and weight-loss goals.
To access Decision Power services, members can log on to www.healthnet.com, select Wellness Center > Get Healthy and click on Health Promotion Program. Members also can call the Customer Contact Center at the number on the back of their Health Net ID card for more information and be directed to a Health Coach.
Medical Advice Disclaimer
The information provided is not intended as medical advice or as a substitute for professional medical care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other health provider for any questions you may have regarding your medical condition and follow your health care providers instructions.
About Health Net
Health Net, Inc. (HNT) is a publicly traded managed care organization that delivers managed health care services through health plans and government-sponsored managed care plans. Its mission is to help people be healthy, secure and comfortable. Health Net provides and administers health benefits to approximately 6.0million individuals across the country through group, individual, Medicare (including the Medicare prescription drug benefit commonly referred to as Part D), Medicaid, U.S. Department of Defense, including TRICARE, and Veterans Affairs programs. Health Net also offers behavioral health, substance abuse and employee assistance programs, managed health care products related to prescription drugs, managed health care product coordination for multi-region employers, and administrative services for medical groups and self-funded benefits programs.
For more information on Health Net, Inc., please visit Health Nets website at www.healthnet.com.
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