Thrift and Cancer Prevention for Your Holiday Favorites

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Last week, Mya wrote about a headline-grabbing analysis showing that you pay more to eat the healthiest diets.That’s not good news for the holidays if you’re trying to balance healthfulness and special food traditions – and you don’t want to bust your budget.

Fortunately, you can make choices that help the balance sheets for both health and budget. Here are a few ways to incorporate moderate spending and family favorites, along with an eye on a healthy weight and eating for cancer prevention during the holidays (and year round) meal by meal.

Breakfast: Look for in-season or other fruit on special at the grocery store; stock up on whole grains like oatmeal or make a batch of healthy homemade muffins and freeze individually; use eggs for breakfast protein – Average cost per egg is only 15 cents.Sticky buns dreamstime_xs_24398431

  • For Christmas morning, I splurge with our family favorite – homemade (1/2 whole grain) cinnamon rolls – but keep the breakfast healthful and economical with grapefruit halves and scrambled eggs.

ThreeBeanSaladx2172Lunch: If you’ve got a nice long vacation break at home, use lunches as an opportunity to choose lighter fare to balance out richer meals. Go beyond the usual tuna and peanut butter sandwiches and use beans, vegetables and nuts to create delicious, quick and economical lunches.

  • My picks: Beans are cheap nutrient powerhouses. I keep handy cans of beans (black, kidney and garbanzo); sweet potatoes; whole grain breads/tortillas; leafy greens; carrots; frozen veggies; reduced sodium boxed/canned soups and tomatoes; nuts and cheese. I can put together a great salad meal; a sweet potato and black bean wrap; or dress up some prepared soup with more veggies and beans.
  • More delicious ideas: Three Bean Salad and Southwestern Bean Salad

Dinner: You may decide to keep meat as the focus of you main holiday meal, but for other meals, it’s a great time to break out new meatless traditions.

  • Here’s one of my favorites: Roasted veggies and goat cheese lasagna. These are the layers: noodles, herbed tomato sauce, roasted butternut squash, roasted red pepper, steamed spinach, and goat and mozzarella cheeses. (I found no-boil, whole-wheat lasagna noodles too!)
  • More delicious ideas:
  1. Pasta Shells with Garlicky Kale
  2. White Bean and Spinach Soup
  3. Pumpkin Stew
  4. Moroccan Seven Vegetable Tagine

How do you balance your holiday traditions with health and economy?


Author: Alice RD

Alice G. Bender, MS, RDN, is the Director of Nutrition Programs at AICR. She helps put the science of cancer prevention into action by providing tips and tools to choose nutritious and delicious foods. Alice has guided thousands of individuals to healthier lives through diet changes and choices.

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