Test Your Skills: Nutrition

Pharmacy CareersPharmacy Careers February 2014

Although the high cost of healthy food is often given as an excuse for unhealthy eating habits, you don't have to sacrifice your health for your budget.

Healthy Eating: Making Good Choices

Although the high cost of healthy food is often given as an excuse for unhealthy eating habits, you don’t have to sacrifice your health for your budget. Healthy eating can be less expensive than you think, and the nutritional benefits are invaluable. Use this breakdown of the cost and nutritional value of some healthy and unhealthy food choices to help you make decisions that will keep your body and your wallet satisfied.

What is Healthier?

Breakfast: Hot or Cold?

Eat Up

Pass Up


Cold Cereal

Price Tag: A 42-oz container of oatmeal can cost anywhere from $3 to $4. With 30 servings per container, you’ll spend about $0.13 or less per serving.

Price Tag: The price of boxed cereal varies, depending on brand and box size, but can range between $3 and $5. A 12-oz box contains about 10 servings.

Nutritional Value: Oatmeal is easy to make and delivers a filling, whole-grain breakfast, free of sodium and cholesterol.

Nutritional Value: Cereal is often highly processed and can contain large amounts of sugar and sodium, although the calorie count per serving is relatively low. However, cold cereal may not keep you satisfied all morning long.

Bottom Line: Pair oatmeal with fruits, nuts, and low-fat milk for healthy fuel that keeps your budget on track.

Bottom Line: Save sugary cereals for the occasional late-night study session.

Lunch: Tuna or Deli?

Eat Up

Pass Up


Lunch Meat

Price Tag: A 15-oz can of tuna costs around $1, depending on the brand. A can that size provides 2 servings.

Price Tag: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, bologna cost about $3 per lb in December 2013. Other lunch meats can cost upwards of $5 per lb.

Nutritional Value: Tuna is a great source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and iron.

Nutritional Value: Lunch meat can be high in sodium, cholesterol, and saturated fat.

Bottom Line: Cans of tuna packed in water, instead of oil, make a range of nutritious and cheap lunches from sandwiches to salads.

Bottom Line: Avoid the deli counter to benefit your wallet and your health.

Snack: Sweet or Salty?

Eat Up

Pass Up

Banana with Peanut Butter

Potato Chips

Price Tag: Bananas cost just $0.60 per lb, on average, while a 16-oz jar of peanut butter (about 14 servings) costs around $3.

Price Tag: On average, a 16-oz bag of potato chips costs $4.53.

Nutritional Value: Bananas are loaded with potassium and vitamin B6, while peanut butter offers protein and healthy fats.

Nutritional Value: It’s no secret that chips offer little nutritional value, plus they are high in fat and sodium.

Bottom Line: Chose a natural variety of peanut butter, free of added oils, sodium, and sugar, for a sweet and satisfying snack that won’t break the bank.

Bottom Line: Save a few bucks and save the chips for game day.

Dinner: Mexican or Italian?

Eat Up

Pass Up

Brown Rice and Beans

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Price Tag: A 1-lb bag of brown rice costs around $2 and contains 10 servings. A 15-oz can of black beans provides 3.5 servings for a little more than $1, or less on sale.

Price Tag: Spaghetti costs around $1 for a 1-lb box. If you make your own meatballs, ground beef costs $3.46 per lb, on average. A jar of tomato sauce can run from $2 to $5.

Nutritional Value: Brown rice is a whole grain that provides a healthy dose of fiber and complex carbohydrates, while beans are a heart-healthy source of protein.

Nutritional Value: This classic comfort food is tasty and pretty easy to make if you use jarred sauce and frozen meatballs. But, it can also be high in sodium, sugar, cholesterol, and fat.

Bottom Line: Mix brown rice and beans with veggies (like peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, and celery), fresh spices (like garlic, onions, and cilantro), and some salsa for a homemade burrito bowl that will please your body and your budget.

Bottom Line: Enjoy this traditional pasta dish as an occasional indulgence; the cost and calories can quickly add up.

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