9 quick tips for following the MIND Diet on a budget

Martha Clare Morris

The MIND Diet has had fantastic results when it comes to improving memory. But the emphasis on nuts, berries, and vegetables can make it an expensive diet to follow. Use these tips to protect your brain and your budget at the same time.

  1. Eat frozen berries instead of fresh

Fresh berries can be a drain on the budget and in many parts of the world it’s not possible to access them all year round. Buy frozen berries instead and add them to smoothies or yogurt, bake them into muffins or whole wheat pancakes or waffles, or heat them up with some water for a healthy topping to enjoy on oatmeal.

  1. Use canned or dried beans

The MIND Diet recommends one portion of beans or legumes every other day. Canned beans are cheap, easily accessible, and filling. Make sure you have a variety in your cupboard so that you don’t get bored – try adding some lentils, red and white beans, chickpeas or kidney beans to your shopping list.

  1. Consider joining a wholesale supply store

Wholesale stores like Costco incur a membership fee, but they’re a great place to shop for food in bulk, and overtime the discounts on staples can really add up. Included in the MIND Diet are three servings of whole grains each day and one serving of vegetables (plus a green salad), so stock up on brown rice and pasta and check out what frozen vegetables are available. A giant bag of frozen broccoli can cost as little as $5 and will have the same nutrition as fresh.

  1. Buy chicken legs and thighs

The MIND Diet recommends two servings of poultry each week. When grocery shopping many people automatically reach for chicken breasts, believing them to be healthier. But thigh and breast meat have a very similar nutritional content and thighs are much, much cheaper than chicken breasts. Better still, buy a whole chicken, which per pound, is the cheapest way to eat poultry.

  1. Look online for deals on nuts

Like berries, nuts are another MIND Diet ingredient that could put a dent in your weekly food budget. Skip the grocery store and look online for bulk deals. You can buy a two-week supply of almonds for around $10. Remember that the nut recommendation is just a 1 oz. serving 2 to 5 times per week.

  1. Make sure you’re following the recommended portion sizes

You only have to eat 1oz of nuts a day to achieve a portion. Weigh out an once and see just how small it is: 1oz equates to about 20 almonds, 17 cashews and 14 walnuts.

  1. Buy in bulk and freeze

See a great deal on chicken thighs but don’t think you can eat them all before they spoil? Don’t let that stop you from taking advantage of a steal. Buy a bunch and stick what you won’t eat immediately in the freezer.

  1. Look for cheaper varieties of fish

When shopping for fish it’s easy to get dispirited by the cost of the well-known varieties. Cod, halibut, and sea bass are all delicious, but if you’re eating them once a week they’ll quickly burn a hole in your wallet. Consider cheaper varieties like dorade, porgy or sardines. Don’t be put off if you haven’t prepared them before – there are lots of recipes online for these lesser-known types of fish.

  1. Don’t worry if you can’t follow the diet exactly

In my study, even those who followed the MIND Diet moderately reduced their risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 35%. If finances are a struggle, focus on what you can achieve, rather than on what you can’t.

 
You can track your MIND Diet progress by signing up for an account at neurotrack.com

Martha Clare Morris, PhD
Martha Clare Morris, PhD

Professor of Internal Medicine Rush University — Nutritional epidemiologist, Dr. Morris, developed and led the research on the MIND Diet at Rush University.