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Healthy Eating On a Budget

Easy Asian-Inspired Salmon Cakes

1 1/2 cups (about 2 cans  canned salmon or flaked cooked salmon)

2 eggs, lightly beaten 

¼ cup finely chopped red onion   

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro 

1 tablespoon chile-garlic sauce 

1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce 

1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder 

1 cup panko breadcrumbs 

¼ cup canola oil


Step 1
Combine salmon, eggs, onion, cilantro, chile-garlic sauce, soy sauce and five-spice powder in a large bowl. Fold in breadcrumbs. Form into four 3-inch-wide patties

Step 2

Heat oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the salmon cakes and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides, 4 to 6 minutes total.

According to the United States Census Bureau, 1 in 7 households are struggling to purchase the food they need to survive. People are facing untold choices – having to choose between paying for medicine, rent, or food. Is it possible to eat healthy on a budget? That is the million-dollar question right now.

“There are ways to eat healthy on a budget, but it takes planning and being resourceful with items on hand,” said Dr. Sarita Golikeri of TPMG Williamsburg Geriatrics and Lifestyle Medicine.

Tips to Eating Healthy, Tasty Food on a Budget

  1. Meal Planning- tune in to last week’s post to get ideas about meal planning. To reiterate – Plan your meals for the week and make a grocery list. Check out what you have in your cupboards first, then buy items that you’re sure you will use. Meal planning is probably the most important step in eating healthy on a budget.
  2. Stick to your grocery list and avoid impulse buying. Online shopping can be great if you find yourself distracted by tempting items at the store.
  3. Cook once and eat twice. Batch cooking can save time and money. Cooking large batches of proteins such as beans, rice, and chicken can help you prepare multiple meals. Meals can easily be repurposed for future lunches or meals.
  4. Never shop when you are hungry. This tip ties in with tip #2. Shopping hungry lends itself to impulse buying and overbuying.
  5. Shop the perimeter of the store where whole foods lie. Some examples are whole grains such as brown rice, lentils, and beans. Less processed foods are often sold in larger quantities and yield more servings per package.
  6. Stock up on staples and favorite products when they’re on sale. Just make sure that they won’t expire in the meantime.
  7. Use frozen fruits and vegetables, which are usually just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts. They are available all year round.
  8. Buy produce seasonally. In-season produce is typically cheaper and more nutritious. If you buy too much, freeze the rest or incorporate it into future meal plans.
  9. Replace meat with other proteins. Cutting back on meat intake could be the most impactful area in bringing down the grocery budget. Replace or reduce meat intake with other less expensive protein sources such as tofu, eggs, beans, or lentils.
  10. Use spices and seasonings to create more flavorful meals. Most are inexpensive and can be purchased in bulk. I recommend starting with a small repertoire of garlic powder, onion powder, cinnamon, cumin, or oregano. Citrus such as lime and lemons are also inexpensive ways to boost flavor profiles in meals.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that it is possible to eat healthy on a budget. The trick is to plan strategically and get the most bang for your buck. Planning, prepping, and having a stocked pantry are key to delicious, budget-friendly meals.

Culinary Medicine Specialist

About Dr. Sarita Golikeri

Certified Geriatric and Culinary Medicine Specialist, Sarita Golikeri, MD, ABOM, CCMS, seeks to prevent and manage chronic disease and promote healthy lifestyles through cooking. Her primary focus is weight management and nutrition. Dr. Golikeri treats patients for diabetes, hypertension, dementia, high cholesterol, asthma, and obesity. She believes it’s better to prevent problems than to treat them. Dr. Golikeri joined TPMG Colonial Family Medicine in 2014 and opened her own practice, TPMG Williamsburg Geriatrics and Lifestyle Medicine in 2019.

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