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  • Cory West

NUTRIENT DENSITY 101

How to get the most out of your nutrients on a budget


If you’re looking to increase your nutrient intake on a budget, look no further!


Getting the most nutrients out of your grocery budget shouldn’t require breaking the bank or sacrificing the foods you love. I’m going to provide you with several tips and tricks on how you can get the most out of your meals while saving you money.


When it comes to increasing nutrient density, it’s no surprise that nutrients are essential. Nutrients are the chemicals necessary to sustain life, as they provide energy and are the building blocks for every system and function of the body. Below I’ve listed my top hacks for you to maximize nutrient density on a budget!


One of the most simple adjustments to increase nutrients is to be mindful of what foods you consume together. A perfect example of this is fat-soluble vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E & K can be found in an array of vegetables and are absorbed at higher amounts when consumed with fatty foods such as eggs, fish, nuts and seeds. Therefore, by simply eating vegetables in combination with high fat foods, one can drastically increase the amount of fat-soluble vitamins their body is able to absorb.


Another way to get more nutrients out of your food is through soaking. Soaking creates enzymes that allow our digestive system to more easily digest foods due to the breakdown of phytic acids before they enter the body. Phytic acid has the ability to bind to certain nutrients, inhibiting their absorption. As a result, soaking foods such as beans, lentils, nuts, grains and oats helps to activate these enzymes, thus providing more nutrients, particularly minerals, from many foods we are already consuming.


Buying in-season produce can be a great way to save money. This produce is often in a surplus, meaning it can often be purchased at a lower price. If possible, venture out to your local farmers market, where produce tends to be more seasonal. Once there, you can chat with the local vendors to find how they grow their produce and raise their livestock, as better farming tactics tend to lead to more nutrient dense foods!


Go shopping with a friend. Stores such as Costco often have great prices on many great items, however, many of these items will spoil before we are able to eat them all. With items sold in such large quantities, shopping with a roommate, friend or family member may allow you to split the cost while still benefiting from the lower prices.


Meal prepping is my personal favorite for increasing nutrient density on a budget. While it does require spending a little extra time once or twice a week cooking and preparing meals, it provides much more control over what and when you eat. Additionally, having meals to grab on the go not only prevents you from stopping and grabbing something more expensive or less healthy, but it also can save you a lot of money. 


Marketing tactics and the media have unfortunately influenced our perception that fat is unhealthy, even though that is not necessarily the case. Fats provide many essential nutrients that are the building blocks for cellular membranes and hormones, they also help regulate our inflammatory response and can act as a nutrient dense calorie source. Additionally, lean cuts of meat are often less nutrient dense and can cost up to two or three times more than fattier cuts. Therefore, purchasing fattier cuts may not only save you money, but also increase the amount of nutrients you are consuming. What’s more, is that fat provides much more flavor to your meals which is an added bonus!



Sources:

  • NTA Student Guide - Macronutrients Guidelines

  • NTA Student Guide - Basics of Nutrition


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