Downturn Dish: Dieting in Downtimes

April 20, 2009

It's not impossible to eat on the cheap , especially if you're willing to eat foods that are unhealthy.‚  Fast food restaurants like McDonald's are doing well as people flock to the dollar menu.‚  But how do you eat well‚  for not a lot of money?
Consumer Reports published tips for a downturn diet‚ including:
"Plan ahead

Make a menu for the week and aim to get everything you need in one or two trips to save on gas (and impulse buying). Watch for flyers or visit your supermarket online to check for sales, and let those drive your menu.

Buy in season

That means no strawberries in December in Maine, when you'll pay for shipping from some far-off warm place. Seasonal picks include cherries, melon, peaches, tomatoes, and peppers in summer; snow peas, spinach, and strawberries in spring; and carrots, cauliflower, citrus fruits, and cranberries in fall. For a list, click on "Save at the Supermarket" from the August/September 2008 issue of our ShopSmart magazine, free at www.ShopSmartMag.org.

Eat beans

They're inexpensive, versatile, and a great source of protein and fiber. Add them to salads, soups, chili, and pasta dishes to increase bulk. Canned beans are the easiest to use, but for maximum economy buy dried beans.

Try tofu

It's a low-cost, nutrient-packed substitute for meat and cheese . Add tofu to salads, or sautĩ with vegetables and something savory such as chili sauce or tamari and serve over brown rice. If you don't like tofu, experiment with tempeh, a related product with a meatier texture."

Maybe an asparagus-tofu stirfry?‚  Or scramble?