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Eating Right When Money’s Tight for People with Diabetes

By the National Diabetes Education Program




For people with diabetes, making healthy food choices is an important part of managing the disease. With the right tips and a little planning, you can eat healthy and stretch your food budget.

• Plan ahead. Before you head out to the grocery store, plan your meals for the week and make a list of the foods you need. Include meals such as stews and casseroles that stretch your food dollars, and double the recipe for a second meal.

•Review grocery store ads and clip coupons from the local newspaper or online.

•Buy in season. Visit your local farmers market where prices tend to be lower because you buy direct from the farmer.

•Buy frozen or canned vegetables with no salt added and canned fruit packed in juice – they are just as good for you as fresh produce and will not go bad.

•Stay away from prepared foods. They will cost you more than the food you can make on your own.

•Healthy snack ideas include air-popped popcorn or 1 cup of vegetables served with some salsa or a little low- fat salad dressing.

Here’s an example of a healthy low-cost recipe that the whole family can enjoy. Nutrition information including carbohydrate grams is provided.

Beef & Bean Chili

Makes 9 servings

2 pounds (lb.) lean beef stew meat, trimmed of fat, cut in 1-inch cubes

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil

2 cups water

2 teaspoons garlic, minced

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 Tablespoon flour

2 teaspoon chili powder

1 green pepper, chopped

2 pounds (or 3 C) tomatoes, chopped

1 Tablespoon oregano

1 teaspoon cumin

2 cups canned kidney beans*

*To cut back on sodium, try using “no salt added” canned kidney beans or rinse the beans in water before use.

Instructions: Brown meat in large skillet with half of vegetable oil. Add water. Simmer covered for 1 hour until meat is tender. Heat remaining vegetable oil in second skillet. Add garlic and onion, and cook over low heat until onion is softened. Add flour and cook for 2 minutes. Add garlic-onion-flour mixture to cooked meat. Then add remaining ingredients to meat mixture. Simmer for 30 minutes. Serve chili with a mixed green salad with tomatoes, cucumber, and peppers topped with reduced-fat or fat-free salad dressing. Enjoy!

Nutrition Information Per Serving for Chili: Serving Size 8 oz., Calories 284, Total Fat 10 g, Saturated Fat 2 g, Cholesterol 76 mg, Sodium 162 mg, Total Fiber 4 g, Protein 33 g, Carbohydrates 16 g, Potassium 769 mg.

Learn more about diabetes by visiting to see when the next diabetes education class is offered in your county at the local health department or simply call 1-800-928-4416 and ask to speak to the diabetes educator. You may also want to become a friend of LCDHD on Facebook at or follow us at .

To get additional free resources to help manage diabetes, contact the National Diabetes Education Program at or call 1-888-693-NDEP (1-888-693-6337), TTY: 1-866-569-1162. For more ways to save money when preparing meals at home, visit the Weight-control Information Network at For more healthy, low- cost recipes, search online for “Keep the Beat: Heart Healthy Recipes” developed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Diabetes Education Program is jointly sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with the support of more than 200 partner organizations.

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