Joanne Smith and Kylie JamesPeople with SCI are at risk of developing a host of serious, debilitating and potentially life-threatening secondary health complications. A nutritious diet can help prevent and/or manage many of these conditions. However, finding ways to eat well on a tight budget can be a challenge. Here are 10 tips on how to get healthy foods in your diet and save money:

1. Make a weekly plan
• Make a list of meals for the week. Avoid excess buying and budget your meals.

• Collect coupons and buy items on sale.

• Do not shop hungry.

• Cook more and eat out less. You’ll save more than you can imagine.

2. Eat whole foods
• Many nutritious whole foods (fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains) cost less than fast food, chips, cookies and pop. Fast foods may fill you up, but they often lack nutrients and fiber, are loaded with salt, sugar, additives, preservatives and bad fats, and they contribute to secondary health complications, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes.

• Take a pass on prepared foods, pre-cut fruits and vegetables, frozen meals and/or vegetables in sauces. They save time but cost more.

• Nutrient-dense whole foods (nuts/seeds and whole grains) fill you up so you eat less. Refined carbohydrates, processed foods and sugars cause cravings and overeating, which in turn means spending more.

3. Build your main meal from whole grains and legumes two to three times a week. Quinoa, whole grains and legumes (beans) are less expensive than meat and contain complex carbohydrates for sustained energy, fiber for better bowel function, protein for tissue repair and growth, and other essential vitamins and minerals that our bodies need.

4. Buy and cook in bulk. Grains and legumes can be bought in bulk inexpensively. Prepare bean salads, chili and stews in quantity and freeze in meal size packs. This makes for healthy, quick, easy meals during the wee