Thursday, September 16, 2010

Proper meat portions healthy for life and wallet

Let’s be honest. Meat is expensive.

At Quest’ not-for-profit grocery stores, our groceries are typically 50 to 70 percent lower then a conventional grocery store. Despite these reductions in prices, meat prices still remain relatively high when we eat the portion sizes that we are conditioned to believe we need.

But, there is hope!!! When we look further into the average amount of protein a person should consume in one day, we see that if we eat adequate proportions, one pound can go a lot further then we think. The Canada Food Guide states that on average, a young adult male should consume two servings of meat per day. An example of one of these servings could be:
-2 eggs
-2 tablespoons of peanut butter
-2.5 ounces of meat (which visually equates to just under a deck of playing cards)
-3/4 cup of cooked beans

Unfortunately, the typical Western proportion size we see presented through culture, the media, or society in general, has skewed our understanding of what a healthy helping is. We tend to think that the main ingredient and focus of the plate should be a large piece of meat, like a T bone steak or a large chicken breast.

While meat can be extremely good for our health because of its high levels of protein, vitamins and other nutrients, overconsumption can lead to certain health complications due to the levels of saturated fats and cholesterol often found in meats. To reduce the chance for these health issues while also making the right amount of protein more attainable, the focus of the plate should change from a large piece of meat to something that has lower levels of fat (while remaining high in other nutrients and vitamins).

A re-education in meal planning can help save you wallet and your waistline. Maintaining a diet based on the Canada Food Guide requires more effort placed on fruits & veggies and grains, to ensure one is full, and has had the proper intake of recommended nutrients.

For example, at Quest, a 500 gram jar of peanut butter can be found for one dollar. With loaves of bread at $0.50, one can ensure a serving of meat/meat alternatives for only pennies. If sticking to the recommended 2.5 ounces of meat, at Quest a single serving of fish will only cost $0.50.

This being said, let’s learn to place more focus on the rest of the meal we once considered after-thoughts or side dishes. Every week, Quest receives an amazing array of baked products from Cobbs Bread. We have an ever changing supply of fresh fruits and vegetables from local suppliers. And now with the help of an amazing volunteer, Quest’s blog will feature recipes using ingredients from our stores.

Knowing adequate portion sizes will not only benefit your health, but your pockets as well. Cheers!

Written by Hannah, a Quest Volunteer

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