How to cook food without losing nutrients

How do you cook vegetables for maximum nutrition? ✔

Since vegetables don’t come in contact with cooking water during steaming, more vitamins are retained. Dry cooking methods such as grilling, roasting and stir-frying also retain a greater amount of nutrients than boiling.

How do you cook vegetables without losing nutrients?

To retain these vitamins, cook vegetables in as little water as possible for a minimal amount of time (unless you’re planning to consume the water, as in a soup). Steaming and microwaving, both of which use little water, will give you the same results as boiling or blanching but with much less nutrient loss.

What is the healthiest way to cook vegetables?

Healthiest Ways to Cook Vegetables

  1. Microwave Steaming. Microwaving not only provides a quick cooking option, it may also help foods retain more nutrients. …
  2. Stovetop Steaming. Steaming vegetables in a metal or bamboo steaming basket is another ideal option. …
  3. Sauteing. …
  4. Boiling. …
  5. Roasting. …
  6. Frying.

Can you cook all the nutrients out of vegetables?

Answer: No, you don’t need to forgo roasted veggies because of high heat. The fact is that all forms of cooking can destroy some of the nutrients (such as vitamin C and B vitamins) in vegetables. … Mushrooms, asparagus and cabbage supply more antioxidant compounds when cooked compared with raw.

Does boiling vegetables kill nutrients?

Boiling results in the greatest loss of nutrients, while other cooking methods more effectively preserve the nutrient content of food. Steaming, roasting and stir-frying are some of the best methods of cooking vegetables when it comes to retaining nutrients ( 12 , 13 , 14 , 15 ).

Are cooked vegetables still healthy?

Another study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2002 showed that cooking carrots increases their level of beta-carotene. … Besides, cooked vegetables retain some of their vitamin C content. That said, research shows that some veggies, including broccoli, are healthier raw rather than cooked.

What is the best way to cook broccoli without losing nutrients?

Experts consider it the best way to preserve broccoli’s nutrition. The easiest way is just use your microwave. You don’t even need a steamer. Cut the broccoli into 1-inch pieces for even cooking.

Is it better to steam or fry vegetables?

Since vegetables don’t come in contact with cooking water during steaming, more vitamins are retained. Dry cooking methods such as grilling, roasting and stir-frying also retain a greater amount of nutrients than boiling. … On the other hand, boiling and pressure cooking led to the greatest antioxidant losses.

There’s no doubt vegetables have lots of good nutrition to offer, but how you purchase, store, and prepare them can dramatically affect their value. Here’s what you need to know when cooking up your favorite veggies.

As soon as vegetables are picked, their nutrient clock beings to tick away. The more time it spends off the plant, the more vitamins will be lost.

For this reason, seeking out local produce when possible is never a bad idea — the less time it takes for the veggies to get to your plate, the more nutrients they’ll retain. Support local agriculture in your community or get your hands dirty by planting some of your own herbs and vegetables – you can’t get more local than that.

Once you get those fresh vegetables home, minimize additional nutrient loss by eating them right away or storing in the refrigerator or freezer. Cold temperatures will limit the degradation of vitamins so use the vegetable drawer in your fridge (where humidity is higher) and store in an air-tight bag or container. Avoid trimming and chopping prior to storage too, this will limit surface area and help lock more of the vitamins inside.

Cooking veggies can further diminish the content of various water-soluble vitamins including folate, thiamin, B6 and vitamin C, especially in foods that sit out heated for more than 2 hours (think buffet or cafeteria style). Vitamin A, riboflavin and niacin tend to hang in there a bit better, while fiber and minerals will remain virtually unaffected.

Overcooked veggies are better than no veggies at all BUT quick cooking will maximize nutrients. Take advantage of as many vitamins as possible by following these tips:

  • Keep skins on when possible
  • Avoid continuous reheating of food
  • Use a minimal amount of cooking liquid
  • Choose steaming over boiling
  • When you do boil, retain the cooking liquid for a future use (like soups and stocks)
  • Use the microwave
  • Use a pressure cooker when possible
  • Avoid using baking soda to retain color
  • Cut veggies into large chunks to reduce surface area

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana’s full bio »

Keeping track of what you eat can help you make better choices, because you know that whatever you choose, you’ll have to write it down. But that doesn’t mean you need to obsess over every calorie or ask an app to run weight loss calculations. If you just want to look for big-picture patterns in your diet, YouAte (free on iOS and Android) is a low key way to do just that.

To log a meal on YouAte, you just take a photo of it, and decide whether it was an “on path” or “off path” meal. You get to define what that means. If you’re trying to eat more vegetables and lean proteins, but you were stuck with office pizza for lunch today, maybe it’s an off path meal. No judgment. (At the end of the week, YouAte will tell you what percentage of your meals were on path.)

After you eat, you can answer the questions the app poses:

  • Why did you eat? (some of the choices are “Hungry,” “It was time,” “Social,” and “Cravings.” You can select more than one.)
  • Who did you eat with? (friends, family, etc)
  • How was it? (forgettable, good, awesome)
  • Where did you eat? (at a table, right? Fortunately they have options for “Work desk,” “car,” “TV,” and more)
  • How was it made? (Homemade, restaurant, etc)
  • How did it make you feel? (Satisfied, still hungry, stuffed, guilty. )

As I logged a few meals with the app, I didn’t find the questions too judgmental or intrusive, but that’s a personal opinion. They just made me think: oh yeah, I guess I am eating at my desk again. Answering how it made me feel was a new idea, too: rather than realizing later that I’m still hungry, I think about it before I leave the table (er, desk). Pro tip: turn on the setting that notifies you 20 minutes after you log a meal to come back and answer these questions.

This is not an app to help you precisely track nutrients or weight loss. It has no idea what’s in the meals you photograph; that’s up to you. You could log your meals in this app and a more precise app like Cron-o-meter, but then you’re doing twice the work. It could be worthwhile for managing the psychological aspects of an eating plan, though, if you’re willing to spend the few extra minutes.

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How to cook food without losing nutrients

Most of us feel overwhelmed when it comes to healthy eating, especially if we have a medical issue.

At DietvsDisease.org we provide research-backed guides and simple meal plans so that you can enjoy food without the stress, and live your healthiest, happiest life.

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"Eat your vegetables." It's probably the first piece of health advice that people remember hearing as kids, and they continue to hear it over and over again as adults. And why shouldn't they? It's next to impossible to have what would be considered healthy meals without vegetables.

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Despite this, many adults still seem to stick to the no-vegetable diet they kept as children. If you fall into that category, you might be wondering whether there are healthy alternatives to vegetables, and if you can still get all the nutrients you need without piling so many plants on your plate.

Why Vegetables Are Important

Think about how many fruits and vegetables you eat in a day. Is it enough? Adults are advised to get a minimum of 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables a day, per the recommendation of the American Heart Association, which encourages filling half your plate (or more) with fruits and vegetables at every meal.

Why? Because vegetables, as well as fruit, are packed with micronutrients — vitamins and minerals that help your body maintain all its functions. Most Americans, however, aren't getting the right amounts of micronutrients that they need.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that only 9 percent of adults get enough vegetables and only 12 percent get enough fruit to meet their daily recommendations. That's a low number! Those who are on the no-vegetable diet (or maybe even low-vegetable diet) may be more susceptible to cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, some cancers and obesity.

Fruits and vegetables are also helpful for those who are trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight because they provide fewer calories for their volume when compared with other foods. That means the high-fiber, high-water content of fruits and vegetables will fill you up, but you won't be taking in too many calories for the amount that you're eating.

Nourishment From Other Sources

Sure, you think, vegetables are great sources of vitamins and minerals. But maybe you can get those same micronutrients from other food. Can I build a healthy meal without vegetables?

Most adult Americans aren't getting the minimum amount of calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium and vitamins A, C, D and E that they need — and your body will absorb these nutrients better from food sources than it will from a multivitamin (though you could talk to your doctor about dietary supplements if you can't get all the nutrients you need from the food you're eating).

Some of these vitamins and minerals are available from non-vegetable and non-fruit sources, but those foods might often be higher calories; additionally, cutting out plant sources will leave you deficient in certain vitamins and minerals unless you're careful. If you find yourself constantly declaring, "I hate vegetables," you need to practice some diligence with your diet.

Take a look at how the American Academy of Family Physicians breaks down each one of these micronutrients from vegetables and non-veggie sources:

Calcium: Used by your body to build (and maintain) strong bones and teeth, calcium's primary source in the American diet is milk and other dairy products. Even so, vegetable sources — such as cooked spinach, which has 122.4 milligrams per half-cup, or soybeans, with 252.2 milligrams per half-cup — deliver a punch of calcium with far fewer calories.

Potassium: Potassium is important for maintaining healthy blood pressure, and it's found in sweet potatoes, white potatoes and several different kinds of beans. It's also available in all kind of fruits, such as bananas, peaches, cantaloupe and honeydew. If you're averse to these plant sources, turn to fish, such as halibut, yellowfin, rockfish and cod, or dairy sources like yogurt and milk.

Magnesium: This mineral is great for your muscles, arteries and heart. Vegetables that are a strong source of magnesium are pumpkin, spinach and artichokes. If you don't like any of those, you can still get your magnesium from brown rice or from nuts like almonds, cashews, peanuts and Brazil nuts.

Vitamin A: Great for vision development and cellular growth, vitamin A can be found in sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, spinach, turnip greens and cantaloupe. Those on a no-vegetable diet will need to rely on organ meats, such as liver or giblets, to get their vitamin A.

Vitamin C: You might automatically think of your immune system with regard to vitamin C, but it's also a powerhouse nutrient that helps the body form collagen in blood vessels, bones, cartilage and muscle. Vegetables such as sweet peppers, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, sweet potatoes and cauliflower are great sources, but if you want something sweeter, you could try guava, oranges, kiwi, strawberries, cantaloupe, papaya, pineapple or mango.

Vitamin D: This vitamin plays a role in absorbing calcium so your body can grow and maintain strong bones and teeth. Vitamin D can be difficult to get from food sources, which is why many foods — such as orange juice and breakfast cereal — are fortified with it. It can be commonly found in non-plant sources such as salmon, swordfish and tuna.

Vitamin E: This antioxidant fights damage to cells in the body, and it's often found in turnip greens, spinach, avocado and tomato. If those aren't appealing to you, be sure to consume plenty of nuts, such as peanuts, pine nuts, hazelnuts, almonds and sunflower seeds.

This is an instance where veggies have lower concentrations of a vitamin: Cooked spinach has 1.9 milligrams of vitamin E per half-cup and avocado has 2.1 milligrams per half-cup, while a 1-ounce serving of sunflower seeds has 9.8 milligrams and a 1-ounce serving of almonds has 7.3 milligrams.

Learn to Love Veggies

It's much better for your overall health, however, to explore some of the best-tasting vegetables out there and acclimate your taste buds. It's nearly impossible to get the wide array of nutrients you need by relying entirely on other sources, so don't think you can just build a healthy meal without vegetables.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers recommendations for getting kids to like their fruits and vegetables — and many of the tips work just as well for adults. Soon, you just might be able to consider every vegetable one of the best-tasting vegetables, and not just a select few.

You can try blending fruit into delicious smoothies, whipping up homemade dips or dressings for raw vegetables, creating colorful kabobs with fruit or vegetable chunks, decorating homemade pizzas or baked potatoes with different veggies, or even creating homemade trail mix with dried fruit.

Other tips include adding colorful vegetables to salads, mixing beans and peas into recipes like chili or soup, decorating serving dishes with vegetable slices, and keeping freshly cut-up vegetables on hands for easy additions to meals.

By understanding the important of micronutrients for your overall wellness, and by making a commitment to try new fruits and vegetables, you'll soon be on your way to a healthier you, one who no longer seeks healthy alternatives to vegetables but instead loves the best-tasting vegetables the grocery store has to offer.

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News flash: There are plenty of ways to cook up juicy and flavorful food without adding tons of unnecessary extras. While most people know to ditch the fryer when cooking up healthy meals, many don’t think about how their cooking method affects the nutritional make-up of their entrée.

Heat can break down and destroy 15 to 20 percent of some vitamins in vegetables — especially vitamin C, folate, and potassium. And as you’ll see below, some methods are more detrimental than others. (This is why raw foodists cut out cooking altogether, claiming that uncooked food maintains all of it’s nutritional value and supports optimal health.)

But other studies suggest certain foods actually benefit from cooking. With carrots, spinach, and tomatoes, for example, heat facilitates the release of antioxidants by breaking down cell walls, providing an easier passage of the healthy components from food to body.

The Methods
Microwaving
Nuking may be the healthiest way to cook because of its short cooking times, which results in minimal nutrient destruction. Microwaves cook food by heating from the inside out. They emit radio waves that “excite” the molecules in food, which generates heat, cooking the food. While microwave cooking can sometimes cause food to dry out, that can easily be avoided by splashing on a bit of water before heating, or placing a wet paper towel over your dish. The way that microwaves cook food nixes the need to add extra oils. The best part is, you can microwave just about anything, from veggies and rice to meat and eggs. And studies suggest it may just be one of the best ways to preserve nutrients in veggies; microwaving broccoli is the best way to preserve its vitamin C, for example. Just make sure to use a microwave-safe container.

Boiling
Boiling is quick, easy, and all you need to add are water and a touch of salt. But the high temperatures and the large volume of water can dissolve and wash away water-soluble vitamins and 60 to 70 percent of minerals in some foods, especially certain vegetables. But research actually suggests boiling could be the best way to preserve nutrients in carrots, zucchini, and broccoli (when compared to steaming, frying, or eating raw).

Steaming
Cooking anything from fresh veggies to fish fillets this way allows them to stew in their own juices and retain all their natural goodness. And no need for fat-laden additions to up the moisture. It’s always good to add a little seasoning first, whether that’s a sprinkle of salt or a squeeze of lemon juice. If the carcinogen-fighting glucosinolates in broccoli are important to you, some research suggests steaming could be the best way to cook the little green trees. In the body, glucosinolates become compounds called isothiocyanates, which some research suggests may inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

Poaching
The same goes for boiling’s cousin, poaching — no additives. Basically, poaching means cooking the given food in a small amount of hot water (just below boiling point). It takes slightly longer (which some experts believe can decrease nutrient retention), but is a great way to gently cook delicate foods like fish, eggs, or fruit. (Plus, it’s just about the most delicious way to cook an egg in our book.)

Broiling
Broiling entails cooking food under high, direct heat for a short period of time. Broiling is a great way to cook tender cuts of meat (remember to trim excess fat before cooking), but may not be ideal for cooking veggies, since they can dry out easily.

Grilling
In terms of getting maximum nutrition without sacrificing flavor, grilling is a great option. It requires minimal added fats and imparts a smoky flavor while keeping meats and veggies juicy and tender. While these are definitely healthy benefits, not everything about grilling is so good for you. Some research suggests that regularly consuming charred, well-done meat may increase risk of pancreatic cancer and breast cancer. Cooking at high heat can also produce a chemical reaction between the fat and protein in meat, creating toxins that are linked to the imbalance of antioxidants in the body and inflammation, which can lead to an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

This doesn’t mean BBQs are forbidden — just stick with lean cuts of meat that require less cooking time, and keep dark meats on the rarer side.

Stir-frying
While this method does require some oil in the pan, it should only be a moderate amount — just enough to get a nice sear on your meat and vegetables. It’s effective for bite-sized pieces of meat, grains like rice and quinoa, and thin-cut veggies like bell peppers, julienned carrots, and snow peas.

No Cooking!
Raw food diets have gained tons of attention recently, and for good reason. Many studies suggest there are of benefits of incorporating more raw foods into the diet: Studies have shown eating the rainbow consistently reduces the risk of cancer, but the jury’s out on whether raw or cooked is really best overall. On the one hand, since the diet is mostly plant-based, you end up eating more vitamins, minerals, and fiber, with no added sugars or fats from cooking. But while some raw items might be super-healthy, studies have found that cooking can actually some nutrients, like lycopene in tomatoes and antioxidants in carotenoids such as carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, and peppers.

How to cook food without losing nutrients

Who loves to sit down at the dinner table, fork in hand, faced with a teeny tiny portion of meat and potatoes? Maybe even a minuscule side of caesar salad? Wait — are those crickets in the background?

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No one wants to walk away from a meal feeling hungry, which can happen with smaller portions. If you're on a weight-loss diet, you should still leave the table satisfied, even if you may not be 100 percent stuffed. But your satiety all comes down to your ingredients and your creativity.

If you're in need of some inspiration, look no further. We've gathered tips from several registered dietitians to give you the skinny on eating more food for less calories — yes, you read that right: more for less.

Volume Eating 101

Keto, paleo, vegan and now volume eating, too? How many more diets can we possibly commit to memory? Well, volume eating isn't exactly a diet per se — it's more like a clever eating strategy.

Volume eating involves strategically choosing ingredients and foods that are higher in surface area but low in calories. Luckily, many high-volume foods, like leafy greens, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and single-ingredient carbohydrates are also rich in vitamins and nutrients.

"Eating foods with more volume can help you feel more satisfied," says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of BetterThanDieting.com and author of Read It Before You Eat It: Taking You From Label to Table.

"The key is not just adding volume though, but also adding value. Many nutrient-rich foods, like a bounty of fruits and veggies, are also rich in filling fiber," Taub-Dix says. This nutrient keeps your blood sugar stable, helping you stay satiated well after your meal, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Swapping some of your more calorie-dense, low-nutrition foods for high-volume options is a great way to stick to your calorie deficit or just eat more throughout your day. If you need some meal prep inspiration, consider these seven helpful hacks.

1. Swap Meat for Mushrooms

How to cook food without losing nutrients

Although the occasional hamburger never hurts, red meat can be high in fat and calories. While substituting some of your red meat for lean protein (like poultry) is always a good idea, you can also try swapping one of your daily meat portions with mushrooms, oatmeal or tofu, recommends Shena Jaramillo, RD.

"These [foods] all provide a texture [like meat] and can easily take on the flavor of whatever meat dish you are creating," Jaramillo says. "They will maintain the volume of the dish, while significantly reducing the calories."

Mixing half a ground beef portion with mushrooms or oatmeal is an excellent way to cut calories, while maintaining the density and size of your burger.

Concerned About Your Total Protein Intake?

While making one of these calorie-friendly swaps will bring down the total protein value of your meal, that probably won't be an issue, considering most Americans get enough protein each day, according to the Mayo Clinic.

2. Add Cauliflower to Your Breakfast Smoothie

What makes a smoothie more filling than juice? It's all in the density. Smoothies retain plants' fiber, making them more satisfying than your average green juice, according to the University of Washington. But smoothies are also usually blended with a thickening ingredient, like Greek yogurt, peanut butter or frozen banana, giving the drink more volume.

Learn how to fill your plate with healthy, nutrient-dense foods by logging your meals on the MyPlate app. Download now to fine-tune your diet today!

We all love a few spoonfuls of peanut butter in our smoothie but nut butters can pack on calories without contributing much volume. To retain the healthy fat in your smoothie, consider swapping one spoonful of nut butter for some cauliflower, suggests Maryann Walsh, RD, the owner of Walsh Nutrition Consulting.

You can also switch your frozen banana for a cup of frozen cauli. Bananas are certainly a healthy fruit but will add quite a bit of sugar and carbs to your drink, Walsh says. Cut your usual banana serving in half and swap with cauliflower to keep your smoothie or acai bowl creamy but lower in sugar.

3. Mix Veggies Into Your Refined Carbs

Eating a bowl of cauliflower rice or zoodles may not leave you totally satiated. But these veggie-based alternatives can come in handy if you want to trim the overall calories of your meals.

Instead of swapping all your rice or pasta with vegetables, go half and half, Jaramillo says. Mixing zucchini noodles into your spaghetti or cauliflower rice into your risotto can help your bowl stay full, while minimizing the overall calories and maintaining the flavor/texture of the dish.

Adding vegetables will also increase the overall fiber of your meal, Jaramillo says, which refined pasta and rice don't usually provide. That's a good thing, since increasing fiber will keep you full for longer.

4. Add Egg Whites to Your Breakfast

Oatmeal is a popular breakfast food, since the grain is like a blank canvas, mixing well with just about any ingredients you add to the bowl (yep, even savory oatmeal is a thing).

For all the positives oatmeal has to offer, it does have one downside: It's low in protein. While most Americans do get plenty of protein each day (as mentioned above), you may want to space your intake evenly across your meals, as the nutrient is excellent for maintaining satiety throughout the day, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Egg whites are an excellent, low-calorie method to add both protein and volume to your dish, Jaramillo says. Minimize your oatmeal portion and cook the oats with egg whites instead. As they heat up, the whites will puff up, giving you more surface area. Plus, they're practically flavorless, which means you can serve your oatmeal sweet, too, without any eggy taste.

Oatmeal isn't the only dish that can be inflated with egg whites, though. You can also add them to cream of rice, or swap one of the eggs in your two-egg omelette with egg whites to bring down the calories but increase the overall size.

How to cook food without losing nutrients

Michael Pollan’s advice for those wanting to eat healthy foods works just as well for those wanting to save money: “Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.” Avoiding processed foods, limiting meat and watching portion size are the same guidelines published in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s My Pyramid, and offer ways to maintain good nutrition while also maintaining your bank account.

Breakfast

Buy rolled oats from the bulk section of your grocery store and microwave it for two minutes for a quick, low-cost breakfast. Using the microwave saves energy whether your stove top is gas or electric.

Purchase whole-wheat bread from the bakery thrift store for toast. When bread is toasted, you can’t tell that it isn’t 100 percent fresh.

Skip high-cost and high-sugar fruit juice for breakfast. Instead, eat a few orange segments and save the rest for a mid-morning snack.

Lunch and Dinner

Cook with healthy, low-cost canola oil.

Follow recipes for cooking with dried beans. You’ll save money and improve taste by cooking with dried beans instead of canned beans. Make them in large batches and freeze some for later use.

Prepare stir-fries to use meat as a flavoring instead of as the main event. Eat portions of 5.5 oz. or less, as recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, when you do cook with meat–you’ll save money and you’ll be healthier, too. As Pollan points out, studies indicate that the more red meat you include in your diet, the greater your risk of heart disease and cancer.

Eat vegetarian meals two or three times a week. Try chili without hamburger, bean enchiladas and hearty soups and stews with whole grains, such as barley, wheat berries or farro.

Cook two or more items together to save money on energy and to make healthy left-overs you can enjoy for lunch. Make your own spaghetti sauce and soups in large batches.

Throughout the Day

Drink water instead of soda. According to Mayo Clinic, you need about 8 cups of fluids each day, which you can get through both liquids and food. Drinking plenty of water guarantees that you will keep your body hydrated.

Eat fresh fruits and vegetables in season and freeze extras to use during the winter months. Stock up on winter squash in the fall and winter and strawberries in the spring.

Pack your own healthy snacks of dried raisins, peanuts and carrot sticks bought in the bulk section of the supermarket instead of buying pre-packaged, high-fat and high-sodium crackers and chips.

Shop Wisely

Plan low-cost, healthy meals ahead of time and follow your shopping list to avoid impulse buying.

Buy frozen vegetables to save money while still getting good nutrition. Canned vegetables often contain high levels of sodium and less nutrition than frozen varieties.