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No Paradox: In a Tough Economy, You Can Still Eat Healthy While Living Frugally

Health Alert Preparing inexpensive, healthy food for your family doesn't require a weekly trip to specialty, often overpriced, natural food stores. Amidst a starving economy, San Joaquin Community Hospital would like to share some good news in honor of National Nutrition Month: Your tightened budget can signal a tighter waistline--if you’re open to a few small suggestions.

Kira Wiggins, director of SJCH's The Wellness Center, says convenience--not cost--is the main culprit of the stigma suggesting eating well and inexpensively are mutually exclusive.

Here's Wiggins' quick guide to discount nourishment:

Design a dinner directory - At the beginning of each week, go to the store with your meal-plan in hand. One of the easiest ways to get caught in the junk-food rut is by choosing the quickest dinner option after a long day at work. Knowing what you have to buy beforehand will also save you time and money at the grocery store.

Prep it prior - Handcuffed by a hectic schedule? Aren't we all. But don't let your busy weeks prevent you from eating healthy. Following your menu, do all the prep you can--particularly produce--during a scheduled weekend timeslot.

Love the leftovers - One of the biggest challenges of cooking--especially for singles and childless couples--is having too much left over. But, by planning to make more than you need for dinner, you already have lunch taken care of for the next day.

While the type of food you should be buying obviously revolves around personal preference, Wiggins has a recommendation for anyone looking to slim down and pay less.

"The all-around best food you can buy is beans," Wiggins said. "Not only are they inexpensive, they're mostly imperishable, filling and extremely good for you."

Though food is the biggest portion of your diet, what you drink can be a money drainer and flab gainer as well. Wiggins suggests eliminating morning coffee shop runs and instead, making coffee at home or at work. Not only is making your own more economical, it eliminates the temptation to replace coffee with those calorie-crammed specialty drinks.

Though there's a million diet fads, pills and routines; know that if your diet revolves around drive-thrus and all-in-one bags, it'll cost you more--in more than one way.

"Whether eating out or at home, we've gotten attached to convenience items," Wiggins said. "Pre-cut, pre-packaged items are usually stripped of their nutrients--if there was any in the first place. If you know what to shop for and you're willing to dedicate a little time each week to prep, it's pretty easy to eat healthy on a rigid budget."

For more information on the The Wellness Center's array of health-related services and classes, call (661) 869-6580.