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Stretching Your Food Dollar

by ADMIN on SEPTEMBER 16, 2011

Eating Healthy on a Budget

With food prices on the rise, it’s becoming important for many of us to be more conscious of how we grocery shop and how much we spend. Many times it seems as though the least expensive foods are also the least healthy – but there are a lot of healthy foods that are inexpensive as well!

By making some simple grocery swaps and drops, you can not only save on your grocery bill, but also make sure you’re giving your family the nutrients they need for health and longevity. Eating healthy and saving money may take a bit more preparation and thought, but a little effort goes a long way!

Tips to Save Money:

  1. Grocery Shop on a Full Stomach. Shopping when hungry may lead to purchasing foods you don’t need. Adding these foods to your cart will also add dollars to your bill.

  2. Plan Ahead and Stick to Your List! When you plan your meals and snacks for the week and make a list of all the ingredients you need, you’ll make less impulse buys. When you have all the food you need on hand, you’ll also be less likely to eat out or order in – which can burn a big hole in your wallet!

  3. Eat out Less. By reducing your meals out to just one or two, you can save $20 to $30 dollars a week!

  4. Clip It. Clipping coupons can help you save money – just make sure you only use the coupons for items you need, not just for ‘good deals’ on items you don’t need.

  5. Be a Store Brand Bandit. Many times the store or generic brand is just as good quality as the name brands, but are priced much lower!

  6. Shop Around. Choose the grocery store that will give you more for your money. Usually prices at convenience stores are higher. Supermarkets will typically have a lower price than the smaller grocery stores. Yet some small stores, such as Aldi or Sav-A-Lot have great prices buy only a small selection.

Tips to Be Healthy (on a Budget!)

  1. Shop the Perimeter First. The outer walls of the grocery store typically have the healthiest foods. That’s where you find fruit, vegetables, meats, poultry, dairy, and whole wheat bread. Inner aisles are littered with processed foods that are high in saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, and sugar; with healthier foods more difficult to spot.

  2. Buy Healthy ‘Convenience Foods’ Second. Healthy convenience foods may sound like an oxymoron, but there are plenty of better-for-you packaged foods that can help you create quick, easy meals.

TIP: When grocery shopping, first buy nutrient-packed foods such as milk, yogurt, eggs; frozen and fresh fruits and veggies; poultry, whole grains, canned or fresh fish, canned beans, nuts, seeds, and peanut butter. Then if there is money left over, purchase the processed foods that may not have any many nutrients (such as cookies, chips, candy, and chocolate), but will be eaten as a treat.

Here is a list of healthy convenience foods you can feel good about eating:

Canned Foods

Canned Beans are a wonderful source of protein and much less expensive than meat! Look for No Salt Added or Low Sodium for better health. If you can’t find these options, simply rinse and drain the beans to reduce the sodium by 40 percent!

Canned Tomatoes are great for adding to stews, soups, or casseroles – and last longer than fresh. Again, look for Low Sodium or No Salt Added.

Canned Red Spaghetti Sauce is an easy and healthy addition to any meal. Look for spaghetti sauce with low sodium (Less than 300mg per serving), and with NO added sugars such as: honey, sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, or high fructose corn syrup. Spaghetti sauce isn’t just for spaghetti! Use it on top of baked chicken with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese for a healthy version of Chicken Parm. Or add a drizzle to steamed veggies to give them great flavor.

Canned Tuna or Salmon. Fish is a wonderful lean protein packed with nutrients, including heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. And canned fish offer all the same health benefits without the high price tag! Good news: All canned salmon is Wild caught. Simply season just like tuna and eat on a salad, in a wrap, or as a salmon patty.

Fruit and Veggies

Buy it Bagged! Fruits and veggies that comes in bulk bags typically cost less per pound than buying produce by the piece. Examples: Apples, onions, oranges, grapefruit, potatoes.

Buy it Frozen! Frozen fruits and vegetables are just as healthy as fresh but are less expensive. Be sure to look for frozen produce without added salt, fat, or sugar.

Dried Plums, Apricots, and Figs are the best dried fruit to buy. These usually do not have added sugars and are packed with vitamins and minerals.


Yogurt and Cottage Cheese: Go Big! The bigger containers of yogurt and cottage cheese cost less per ounce than the singler serving containers. Be sure to buy ‘low fat’ and ‘light’ when possible to help cut saturated fat and added sugars.

Milk It! Milk in gallon and half gallon containers are usually less expensive than milk in pints or quarts. Choose low fat or fat free milk which has less saturated fat and cholesterol, but the same amount of protein and nutrients as whole and 2%.

Egg-Cellent. Eggs are one of the best sources of protein – and one of the least expensive. Good news: eating one egg per day will not raise your cholesterol! Hard boil 6 eggs on Sunday and keep refrigerated for a quick protein-packed snack during the week.

Cheesy Choice. Buy store brand bulk or block cheeses instead of individually slice or individually wrapped cheese. Individual cheeses are priced higher because we’re paying for slicing and packaging.

Cereals and Grains

Go Hot! Hot cereals, such as rolled oats, cost less per serving than ready-to-eat cold cereals. Purchase rolled oats in large canisters rather than individual serving packets to save more money. TIP: You can make 5 servings or oatmeal in a big batch on Sunday to have through the week as a quick breakfast. Simply store in a Tupperware container in the refrigerator and take out one portion each day. The oatmeal will thicken in the fridge – so you can add a splash of milk or water, stir, and heat up (or eat cold!).

Bulk Grains. Buy grains in bulk will allow you to purchase only what you need (instead of a 12 pound bag!); and it’s less expensive since you don’t have to pay for packaging!

Meats and Poultry

Purchase less expensive cuts of meat. Round, Chuck, and Shoulder are some of the least expensive cuts of meat, but have just as much nutrition. These are best when stewed, roasted, or braised. Lean ground beef is also a money-saving choice.

Family Pack-It! Even though you may only be cooking for one or two, buying the larger family pack of meal or poultry saves money. Simply freeze the meat individually and then use it piece by piece as needed.

Chicken over Beef. Poultry is not only better for you (as long as you remove the skin!), but it also costs less than red meat. For even more savings, purchase a whole chicken which can cost as much as a dollar LESS per pound! You can ask the store’s butcher to cut the chicken into pieces.

Eating healthy doesn’t have to break the bank. With a couple adjustments and a little planning; you could be on your way to saving money and feeling great!


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