Healthy food is not just the food in the specialty aisle. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend putting an emphasis on food choices that are nutrient dense and from the following food groups: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat and fat-free milk and milk products. Key nutrients, such as potassium, dietary fiber, calcium and vitamin D are of public health concerns for adults and children. Reducing foods with excessive amounts of sodium, saturated fat, trans fatty acids, added sugars and refined grains is also recommended, as it may reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer.
Eating healthy does not have to be expensive. There are many things you can do to save money at the grocery store and eat healthy on a budget.
- The first step to saving is to plan ahead. Plan your meals for the week, check for what you already have on hand, and make a list for what you need.
- Stick to your grocery list. Try not to impulse buy – you will end up with things you don’t really want.
- Check local ads and look online for specials and sale prices. If you have freezer space, buy meat in larger family packs when they are on sale and separate into the servings you need for a meal.
- Stay away from convenience foods like frozen dinners and pre-cut fruits and vegetables. These will cost more than if you prepare them yourself.
- Always compare prices, even if you have coupons, paying close attention to the unit price. This tells you the cost per unit, such as ounces or pounds. Just because a sale price is lower does not mean it is the best value.
- Look for store brands. They are usually cheaper and have the same quality as name brands.
- When buying produce look for what is in season. It will not only be less expensive, but it will also taste better. Try canned or frozen produce when what you want is not in season.
- Only buy fresh produce in the amounts you can eat so you won’t end up throwing it away.
Eating healthy does not have to cost more. Start using some of these tips and track your spending. You may find that not only is it not more expensive, but that it actually can cost less.
For more information and tips, check out these sites and publications:
- Reduce your food budget (article on MissouriFamilies.org)
- Seasonal and Simple: A Guide for Enjoying Fresh Fruits and Vegetables (MU Extension publication)
Contributor: Denise Schmitz, M.A., R.D., Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, firstname.lastname@example.org, 816-482-5850