by Kim Beavers, MS, RD, LD, CDE

Does your budget dictate your buying decisions? Budget definitely affects my purchasing decisions but admittedly my profession as a culinary nutritionist funnels a larger than average portion of household income into the food budget. However, when working with patients and clients, I sometimes hear murmuring about how it costs more to eat healthy. And while that can be true, there are many strategies one can utilize to make eating healthy more cost effective than eating poorly. I say that with even more confidence after reviewing this lovely and free-to-download cookbook Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day by Leanne Brown (

Beyond the recommendation to eat more beans, (which is a favorite recommendation of mine, albeit more for the health than the “wealth” of that particular advice) here are some of my favorite budget friendly strategies from Leanne’s book.

1.  Cook for yourself: The skill of cooking is powerful and meaningful, yet slightly undervalued in our hurried lives. Yes, cooking is a money saving and a health promoting skill. Begin with things you already know and add on a new skill or recipe each month. You can do it!

2.  Start building a pantry: If possible each week reserve part of your food budget to buy a semi-expensive ingredient or staple such as extra virgin olive oil or a certain spice.

3.  Always buy eggs: A quick to cook and inexpensive source of protein is a good description of an egg. Even if you buy higher priced farmers market eggs (worth the money!!!) you are still only paying about .33 cents per egg. Think scrambled egg toast: eggs dropped into a skillet of sautéed veggies…yum and yum. I tried Leanne’s Brussels Sprout Hash and Egg recipe and it is a winner.

4.  Get creative with wilted vegetables: Ahhh the forgotten vegetable, we have all been there when we find a slightly wilted whatever in the back of the vegetable drawer. Wilted vegetables are not quite fit for salads but they are still lovely in a sauté, an omelet or soup.

5.  Don’t buy drinks: All you need is love (I mean water). Really– we only need water to drink. Leanne describes drinks as overpriced sugar delivery liquids that do not fill you up the same way whole fruits and veggies do. She suggests you try her aqua fresca, smoothie recipes or that you simply make your own tea when you want something beyond water.

Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day provides many more strategies for budget friendly eating along with plenty of delicious recipes so  download or buy your own hard copy to see for yourself.

Here is one more budget friendly recipe and it is my favorite recipe for salmon cakes. Recipe reprinted with permission from Best Body Cookbook & Menu Plan (

Quinoa Salmon Patties

Salmon is a wonderful source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Canned salmon is a convenient and economical way to add more Omega-3s to your diet.

Vegetable oil cooking spray

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided

1 bunch green onion, whites and greens chopped but separate

1 stalk celery, chopped

Zest of one lemon (about 1 teaspoon)

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill

1 (15 ounce) can salmon

½ cup cooked quinoa

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 egg

½ teaspoon black pepper

Serve with Lemon Wedges

1.  Spray a non-stick skillet with vegetable oil cooking spray and add ½ teaspoon oil to the pan, place over medium heat.  Once hot add the white part of the green onions, and the celery. Stir and cook until the celery is soft (about 2 minutes). Remove from pan and allow vegetables to cool.

2.  Add the ½ of the remaining onion tops to the bowl of a food processor with the lemon zest, juice and dill. Pulse the onions for 5-6 one second pulses until onions are minced.

3. Drain, de-bone and remove the skin from the salmon. Place the salmon in a large bowl and break up with a fork and then add to the food processor.  Add the quinoa, mustard and celery mixture, to the food processor and pulse until a dough begins to form and ingredients are mixed (~ 10 pulses).

4. Using the bowl the salmon was in whisk the egg and black pepper with a fork. Add the salmon mixture from the food processor to the egg and mix well. If you have a smaller sized egg it may be necessary to add an extra egg white to help hold the patty together. Divide the salmon into 4 equal patties and set aside.

5.  Add the remaining 2 ½ teaspoons of oil to the same pan the celery was cooked in and place over medium heat.  Once the oil is hot add the patties and cook until golden brown (~3 minutes).  Carefully flip and cook on the other side until heated through (~2-3 minutes).

Yield: 4 Servings

Nutrition Breakdown: Calories 210, Fat 12g (2.5 saturated fat, ~750mg Omega-3), Cholesterol 70mg, Sodium 480mg, Carbohydrate  7g, Fiber 1g, Protein 18g.

Diabetes Exchange Value: ½ Starch, 2 ½ Medium fat meat

Kim Beavers is a Registered Dietitian and Diabetes Educator for University Health Care System. She lives in North Augusta with her husband and two children and she is the co-host of the culinary nutrition segment Eating Well with Kim, which airs at noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday on WRDW. To be notified of new recipes join Kim’s facebook fan page at To search for specific recipes go to You can also watch the segments at


This article appears in the February 2018 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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