10 Ways to Eat Right for Less


By: , – Arricca Elin SanSone, Woman's Day
  :  13 comments   :  32,046 Views

You don't need to shop at pricey, upscale supermarkets or health food stores to eat right. Your regular grocery store has nutritious foods you love that won’t break your budget. You may want to tweak what you buy, though. "Many of the healthiest foods, such as beans, are inexpensive compared to animal sources, such as meat," says Marisa Moore, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Here’s how to follow a diet that’s as good for you as it is for your wallet. 
1. Shop with a plan. "The average family of four throws out $500 to $600 of spoiled food per year,"says Moore. "Inventory your pantry, freezer and fridge to build meals from what you already have." Check out apps such as FoodontheTable.com to figure out what you can make with what's on hand. Then, download your grocery store's weekly ad, and list what you need to round out your weekly menu. A list also helps you get in and out of the store faster, which could save you money: Studies show the longer we stay, the more we buy. Avoid prepackaged or prepared foods, such as pasta and rice dishes. "They're convenient, but expensive and contain far more sodium, calories and sugar than is healthy," says Moore. Finally, never shop on an empty stomach, so you don’t cave in to impulse buys.
2. Buy what’s in season. Although you can get many kinds of produce year-round, "it's usually cheapest when it’s most abundant," says Jim White, RD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In much of the country, leafy greens, such as kale, and root vegetables, such as potatoes and carrots, are bountiful in winter. In the spring, look for asparagus, mustard greens, turnip greens, spinach and strawberries. In summer, it's peppers, tomatoes and peaches. Fall brings fresh crops of apples, pears and squash. Check out what’s in season now near you. 

3. Become a locavore. Besides the fact that you support nearby growers when you buy from farmer’s markets, "there's a health benefit to shopping local," says Sarah 'Krieger, RD, MPH, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "The less time it takes to get produce on your table, the more nutritious it is—nutrients like vitamins B and C deteriorate quickly with heat, sunlight and travel time." Locally grown produce is often cheaper than the kind that comes from afar because the cost to get the goods to you is lower.
4. Join a community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm. You’ll pay a modest annual fee to receive a weekly box of seasonal veggies (and sometimes fruits, too) while helping to support a local farm. Although you don't get to choose what’s in each box (it depends on what your farm grows and what’s in season), CSAs let you try foods you might not ordinarily buy, says Krieger. Plus, many CSAs offer newsletters and recipe ideas, especially for vegetables you may not be familiar with, such as fennel and celeriac. If a large box is too much for your family, buy a half-share or split a big box with a neighbor. In most parts of the country, you’ll need to join in late winter to early spring.
5. Switch to frozen and canned produce. Fruits and veggies are packaged at peak readiness so they’re a tasty, inexpensive alternative to fresh, says White. Plus, they don't spoil in days in your crisper drawer, so they’re not going to waste. While some consumers may be concerned about chemicals such as Bisphenol A (BPA) leaching from cans into foods, the Food and Drug Administration(FDA) review of the scientific evidence doesn’t suggest it's a health risk. One word of advice: Rinse canned veggies thoroughly to reduce sodium content by a third—most of us get too much sodium. On average, Americans consume 3,300 mg per day when the recommendation is 2,300 mg (or 1,500 mg if you’re age 51 or older, African-American or have high blood pressure, diabetes or kidney disease).

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More from Woman's Day: How do you save money and still eat nutritious foods?

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  • 13
    I don't know why every article says local is cheaper. Every farmers market I have been to in Texas is way more expensive then HEB! - 10/26/2013   10:19:00 AM
    I buy fresh when I can, wash really well, and freeze it myself. Otherwise I buy bags of frozen. The only canned veggies are tomatoes and mushrooms...and Chick Peas...love my toasted chick peas!
    Reading the article is the first time I've heard of CSA farms...an expensive option and I would rather just go to the farmers market and pick my own. - 10/23/2013   5:41:03 PM
    Jeez...some of us can't afford the fresh organic fruits and veggies all the time. I shop at Wegmans and have no problem buying their canned veggies (corn/green beans, etc.). There isn't a bad aftertaste and I trust that Wegmans does a better job handling their produce. I have also purchased their frozen veggies as well, but canned is by far cheaper. Helps me budget, especially since my healthcare plan costs have skyrocketed in 2013. - 1/3/2013   1:41:01 PM
  • 10
    Unfortunately the foodonthetable is NOT available for the Kindle Fire. I would love to use it .... - 1/1/2013   7:36:38 AM
  • 9
    I mostly buy frozen vegetables or organic fresh and regular fresh. I do buy some items in the can and Chickpeas, Black Beans, Tomatoes and Black Olives are the main items. I'm not able to venture out to buy other options and the Chickpeas and Blackbeans ARE Organic come to think of it. I BLESS/Pray over my food while preparing it and before I eat it giving Thanks to God so I'm straight. Trying to get my 5 or more in each day is my main battle. Very interesting conversations! Thanks for posting the Blog and Thanks ALL for sharing.
    HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL!!! - 12/31/2012   3:38:40 PM
    I save money by making out a menu two weeks in advance. When I shop I look at my menu and buy only the things I need to make those meals for the week. That way I am not buying a bunch of food that I never prepare and waste. I aslo keep a freezer inventory on my fridge. That way I know what I have in the freezer and when I need to restock. - 12/31/2012   12:52:04 PM
  • 7
    BPA in cans has been shown to be extremely bad for us, especially in acidic foods like tomatoes. There are a few companies who can food without this lining, if you buy canned, get BPA-free cans when they go on sale. Animal studies show that BPA can be linked to diabetes and heart disease and liver problems. Here is a link to learn more: www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20
    - 12/31/2012   11:03:47 AM
    We rarely buy canned goods. The only exception that comes to mind is tomatoes. I would put an extra freezer in the garage if it didn't get to blamed hot here in the summer. - 12/31/2012   10:58:07 AM
  • 5
    Wow guys, sometimes cans are all people can afford. I'm sorry if that's not "good enough" for you. - 12/31/2012   10:07:31 AM
  • 4
    Yuck to the can idea! If it was an only alternative I would say yes, but would rather not due to taste and leaching of God knows what. Might be a good choice for veggies out of season though. I have a foot of snow outside so local produce is scarce right now. - 12/31/2012   10:03:24 AM
  • 3
    Canned?! Whew. I shop for sales and things, I buy at farmers markets, but honestly, eating canned food is the last thing I'd consider unless I was strapped for cash to the point I was ready to shop at the local food pantry. I don't care what the USDA says (staffed by corporate agriculture experts), I'm not eating things that came from cans lined in plastic, that have been sitting in water for weeks if not months. Frozen is next best to fresh, and I do use those sometimes. It's possible to be penny wise and dollar foolish, as it's said.
    - 12/31/2012   9:43:12 AM
  • 2
    If you are a SPARK Person, and like the CSA idea, consider joining the CSA team. We celebrate locavores! - 12/31/2012   9:14:34 AM
  • 1
    Those are good ideas. When I see items on sale, I stock up. Recently I bought Quaker Oats for $2 a box, and now they are up to $3.77, so I have about 20 boxes in the pantry. - 12/31/2012   7:02:01 AM

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