Healthy Eating on a Budget: Is it Possible?

Posted by | Posted in Expert Tips, Nutrition | Posted on 07-25-2013

mother and daughter grocery shoppingThose making the effort to eat healthier may notice an increase in their grocery bills. Is this just a necessary downside of healthier living? It doesn’t have to be.

Gayle Jennings, MS, RDN, LDN, Lead Clinical Dietitian at Memorial Medical Center, offers several ideas to eat healthily without breaking the bank:

  • Plan for meals. Take inventory of what you already have in your kitchen and use that as a foundation to plan a week or two of meals, then build from there.
  • Make a shopping list. Stick to it and use it. Don’t let your shopping cart stray.
  • Opt for store brands instead of brand name products. More often than not, they are of comparable quality for a lower price.
  • Compare the unit prices of similar items. Don’t just buy a larger package because it appears to be a better deal—it might not be.
  • Don’t go shopping on an empty stomach! Ever.
  • Use coupons, but only for foods that you need, like and will use.
  • Plan to eat leftovers. Store leftovers in single serving containers in the refrigerator or freezer. Use them for last minute meals or to pack your own lunch.
  • Buy in bulk, but only if it is the best deal.
  • Make your own packaged snacks. Don’t buy individual packages of nuts, pretzels, cereals, etc. Buy a larger size and pack your own snack size portions in baggies.
  • Limit drinks that cost money to special occasions. Drink tap water, not bottled.
  • Spend most of your time at the store in the outside aisles. Limit the time you spend in the inside aisles with canned, packaged and processed foods, as those tend to be more expensive and less healthful. But, don’t spend too much time or money on meat products. Keep protein portions to six ounces each day.
  • Shop for produce in season. In season produce typically doesn’t require as much travel and is more readily available, so it’s less expensive than in other times of the year. Check out this list for the best months to buy certain produce:
    • January Oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, lemons, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower
    • February – Oranges, grapefruit, lemons, broccoli, cauliflower
    •  March – Pineapple, broccoli, lettuce
    • April – Pineapple, zucchini, rhubarb, artichoke, asparagus, spring peas, broccoli, lettuce
    • May – Cherries, pineapple, apricot, okra, zucchini, rhubarb, asparagus, spring peas
    • June – Watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, cherries, blueberries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, corn, lettuce
    • July/August – Watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, blueberries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, kiwi, raspberries, plums, cucumbers, tomatoes, summer squash, corn, green beans, lettuce
    • September – Grapes, pumpkin, tomatoes, spinach, lettuce
    • October – Cranberries, apples, grapes, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, winter squash, broccoli, spinach, lettuce
    • November – Cranberries, oranges, tangerines, pears, pumpkin, winter squash, sweet potato, broccoli, spinach
    • December – Pears, oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, sweet potato, mushroom, broccoli, cauliflower
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