By Gretchen Scalpi
There’s no question that many people are having difficulty keeping up with household and food expenses in these tough economic times. This is especially true for those who have lost a job or are now working in lower paying jobs out of necessity. I often hear people lament that they would like to eat healthier, but it’s just too expensive to buy the right foods. While it is true that many inexpensive sale items you see at the grocery store are the foods with poor nutritional value, there are still a number of things you can do to eat well without spending a lot of money.
Here are 5 tips to help you do exactly that:
- Use whole grain foods instead of prepared and packaged items such as flavored rice and pasta mixes. Whole grain pasta, brown rice and whole grain bread or tortillas provide far more fiber, vitamins and minerals compared to the processed items. You can purchase most of these items under the store brand, rather than a branded label. Factor in how many servings you get for the purchase price of the whole grain, and you will find that your net cost is lower.
- Buy fresh fruits and vegetables when they are in season and buy local whenever you can. Produce can be costly if purchased when they are not in season or have been imported from far away. The trick is to learn what fruits and vegetables are in season in your area and buy them at the right time. For example, in the northeast, fresh berries in January very expensive because they are not in season.
- Stock up on frozen vegetables and fruit. Purchase the plain frozen vegetables and fruits (without sauces or seasonings). Flash frozen produce has comparable or possibly better nutritional value to the fresh counterparts. Frozen fruits and vegetables often cost less than fresh and are quite convenient. While most convenience foods are expensive or low on nutrition, frozen fruits and vegetables are definitely a winner.
- Stock up on beans and lentils (legumes). Legumes are extremely versatile and can be used in soups, stews, salads or side dishes. The cost is low, while the nutritional benefits are high. Legumes provide a great source of fiber, protein and minerals. Trying adding black beans and some spices to your next batch of ground meat or turkey so you can use less meat.
- Avoid the coupon trap. Coupons can be of help when you are on a budget, and you should check them out. However, many coupons are for higher priced food items which are highly processed. Be selective in your use of coupons. If the item has little nutritional value, then it’s really not a wise purchase, even with the coupon!
Follow these tips for making healthier choices at the grocery store. With a little planning, and bit of time devoted to your food choices, you will not only come out ahead nutritionally, but you will also get the biggest bang for your buck!
© 2010, Gretchen Scalpi, RD, CDE. Publication rights granted to all venues so long as article and by-line are reprinted intact and all links are made live.
Gretchen is an author, consultant, speaker and Registered Dietitian & Certified Diabetes Educator. She is also a Certified LEAP Therapist (Lifestyle Eating and Performance), specializing in the clinical management of food sensitivities and related conditions. She opened her private nutrition practice in 2002 and has expanded to two office locations in New Windsor and Beacon, NY. Gretchen’s practice provides individual nutritional counseling in the areas of diabetes, weight management, food sensitivities, gastrointestinal disorders, and general wellness. To work with Gretchen Scalpi please visit http://www.nutritionxpert.com