Food For Thought: Eating healthy a matter of planning

It's that time again! Summer holidays are at an end and it's time to stock the fridge for the busy “back to school” month. It's not easy to make sure you eat healthy on tight time and low budget, so here's a few food ideas to make sure you have kicking around all year that won't break your bank (or your OSAP!)

We're not talking Spaghetti-O's or Kraft Dinner (although I do love a KD night once in a while). Pasta is a quick and healthy choice that still allows for some variety and won't go bad in your cupboard. You can switch it up by having pesto one day and tomato sauce on another day.

The carbohydrates in pasta will help give you the energy you need to get through the day, especially if homework or parties take you into the wee hours of the morning. Try to buy whole grain pasta! The texture is not quite as nice, but the added fibre is so much healthier for your system. Because fibre makes the food easier to pass through you, your body won't absorb as much of the fat. Bonus!

Fresh Fruits and Veggies
I know this is a given, but it is so important to have fresh fruits and vegetables in your daily diet. Try to eat at least three or four different coloured fruits or vegetables every day as each colour does something different for your body. Although frozen and canned produce is cheaper and lasts longer, the processing really diminishes the nutritional value of the food.

To save some cash, do a little research on what is local and in season so you pay less and don't eat something that has been ripening on a truck for days. The Covent Garden Market at Talbot Street and King Street (downtown) has some wonderful produce shops, and the fruit there tastes amazing! Next time you crave something sweet- try some crunchy grapes or a local apple from the market. Mmmm!

Beans, Chickpeas & Lentils
Whichever you fancy, these underrated members of the legume family are really good for you and easy to hide in your food. Toss some chickpeas in a salad, throw a few lentils in your soup, make a bean and cheese dip or add them all together with some Italian dressing for a simple bean salad and you are doing your body a world of favours. Legumes are high in fibre and aid the digestive tract, helping out all the good bacteria that hang out in your intestines. They also provide protein for those who don't eat or can't afford meat. You can buy canned or dried, although I suggest using canned legumes since they are easier to prepare. Also, legumes are low in fat and can be fantastic for those who want to add substance to their meal without packing on the pounds.

I hope these three staple foods help to keep the “empty-cupboard blues” at bay, and inspire you to create healthy meals for yourself everyday.