Nutrition on a budget: Buying the best bread and grain products

By: Janice Daciuk Author: Canadian Living Credits:


Nutrition on a budget: Buying the best bread and grain products

By: Janice Daciuk
Putting healthy meals on the table doesn't mean spending more at the checkout and more time preparing at home. With a little planning and creative thinking you can have it all – nutrition, economy and great taste. Read the great food information, nutritional advice and shopping tips below.

What's your favourite healthy meal to prepare?
Share your best budget-friendly nutritious meal ideas with other readers in the comments section on the next page.

If you have room in your freezer, stock up on grain products, such as whole wheat or enriched breads and rolls, when they are on sale. Be sure to wrap them tightly to prevent them from drying out or becoming freezer-burned.

Buy 100 per cent whole wheat bread. It costs about the same as regular white bread but contains three times the amount of fibre. (One slice of whole-wheat has two grams of fibre; one slice of white 0.6 grams fibre.)

"Grainy" breads such as oatmeal or cracked wheat may not be as healthy as you think. For instance, one slice of 100 per cent whole wheat bread has two grams of fibre versus 1.1 grams for oatmeal and 1.3 grams for cracked wheat.

How to find the healthiest options in the bakery department
Prepared baked goods are usually high in sugar and cholesterol-raising hydrogenated fats and low on fruit and whole grains. Use the information and ingredients below to make delicious nutritious baked goods:

• Millet adds great crunch and is a source of niacin, folate and zinc.

• Whole or ground flax seeds add texture as well as fibre, calcium, iron, zinc and folate. One-half cup (125 mL) of flax seed adds 12.3 fibre to the mix. Flax may help lower LDL or "bad" cholesterol levels. Ground flax seeds have more nutritional benefit since you can digest them more easily, which makes the nutrients more available to the body.

• Walnuts, in small amounts (30-60 g [1-2 oz]) per day have been shown to help lower LDL or "bad" cholesterol levels when included in a heart healthy diet. The high levels of polyunsaturated fat found in walnuts is thought to be the key. Walnuts also contain Vitamin E, an antioxidant, and omega-3 fatty acids. Don't overdo it though as walnuts are high in calories. Peanuts, almonds and hazelnuts also help to lower cholesterol levels.

Page 1 of 2 – Are you buying the best kind of pasta, pizza dough, rice or cereal? Find out how to pick the best grain products at the grocery store with tips on page 2.

Choosing a healthy cereal
Add fruit for extra fibre and vitamins. Blueberries, raspberries and blackberries all contain compounds called anthocyanins, which act as antioxidants, preventing cell damage in the body. One-half cup (125 mL) of unsweetened raspberries or strawberries is high in vitamin C. Frozen whole berries are handy to have on hand and are a bargain when fresh is out of season.

Buy plain, whole grain cereals such as Shredded Wheat and add your own nuts or fruit. Pre-sweetened varieties and those with added fruit and nuts are more expensive.

Pasta, rice and pizza dough tips
Stock up when pasta is on sale. It can be stored indefinitely in a cool place. Besides being filling, fun and low in fat, pasta is enriched with iron and B-vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folic acid.

Brown rice is more nutritious than white rice. For quick cooking, try parboiled whole-grain rice. (You can cook rice ahead of time and reheat it later with a little water in the microwave, but be sure to immediately refrigerate any cooked rice you don't eat right away.)

Pick up some rolling-ready pizza dough and save on your next pizza. By adding your own toppings you can control the fat and calories. Try lower-fat mozzarella cheese for calcium, sliced mushrooms, diced green bell peppers for vitamin C, broccoli for beta-carotene and tomatoes for the powerful antioxidant lycopene. Go for whole wheat pizza dough if you can find it. Compared to a deli- prepared pizza or takeout pizza from a restaurant, homemade pizza is a delicious and healthy bargain.

Buying baking ingredients
Make your own breadcrumbs out of stale, but not moldy, bread. Freeze them for longer storage.

If you bake a lot, buy flour in large bags. A 5.5 lb/2.5 kg bag of Five Roses, all-purpose flour costs approximately $3.20 or $1.30/kg. A 22 lb/10 kg bag of the same flour is a real cost savings at approximately $6.00 or 60¢/kg. (Bulk all-purpose flour was $1.52/kg!)

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Nutrition on a budget: Buying the best bread and grain products