When It Comes To Calories, Quality Is As Important As Quantity

fruit and vegsOne of the cornerstones of any successful diet plan (and something I’ve always stressed to The Biggest Loser contestants) is that the quality of your calories is just as important as the quantity. It’s an important distinction to remember, especially when you are decreasing the number of calories you are eating in order to drop weight — so choose wisely.

Freshness equals flavor.
Regardless of the recipe, the quality of the outcome is a function of the quality of the ingredients you use. Buy the freshest, highest-quality foods you can afford. Depending on your budget, it’s not always possible to buy organic produce and prime-grade fish, poultry and meats. But on the other hand, once you’re comfortable experimenting with a variety of flavors and styles, you may discover you’re dining out less without missing out on flavor — which can result in substantial savings.

Similarly, focusing your diet on “clean” foods made from fresh, whole ingredients is likely to be more filling and satisfying than consuming an abundance of processed foods; you may find you need less of the good stuff and achieve savings through quality over quantity.

A few more tips to help maximize your fresh-foods dollar:

Buy seasonal and local produce.
Although our expansive, modern supermarkets stock produce year-round, many items travel thousands of miles to reach the shelves. To keep costs down — both yours and the environment’s — try visiting a local farmers’ market and acquainting yourself with what’s available seasonally. You’ll find the produce is not only a better value, but it tastes better, too.

Shop more frequently and buy less food.
There’s nothing worse than buying a lots of tantalizing produce, only to have it spoil before you have a chance to use it all. If you’re used to shopping once a week or less, you may find it’s best to add a midweek shopping trip to your schedule so you can buy produce in smaller quantities and avoid waste.

Get to know your butcher and fishmonger.
If you’re used to buying pre-packaged meats, poultry, and fish, it can be intimidating to step up to the counter and ask questions. But butchers and fishmongers are extremely knowledgeable resources and offer a wealth of information about the most flavorful cuts of meat and which fish are most plentiful now (and hence cost less) — so ask away! Most professionals are also happy to de-bone your meats and skin your fish fillets, saving you time in the kitchen. And you may be surprised by some of the valuable cooking tips they have to offer!

Grow your own.
You don’t have to own a farm to grow your own herbs. All you need is a sunny windowsill and a few flower pots to start your own patch of basil, rosemary or thyme. Not only will you save money on buying fresh herbs, but you’ll also be able to snip off just what you need instead of buying a big bunch that you’ll never be able to use up. If you have a little more room outside, consider planting a few of your favorite vegetables — the flavor of tomatoes or snap peas right off the vine is unparalleled. And the satisfaction of growing, cooking, and eating your own food is well worth the investment of time and resources.

© Cheryl Forberg 2016