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Shopping Healthy on a Budget

By Carolyn Brown, MS, RD

produce shopping

It’s not news that making changes toward healthier eating can add up to be a pricey undertaking.  Of course, one way to manage costs is to buy in bulk at Costco or Sams Club – and they actually have a solid organic selection. But, if you’re like me – only shopping for one or two people and/or live in an apartment the size of most people’s closets, buying in bulk is not really an option. Since I can’t stock up at discount stores, I’ve had to come up with a few tricks to keep costs down.

Here are a few:

  • Buy from bulk bins (this doesn’t mean in bulk quantities, necessarily). The bins at grocery stores are full of nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans and dried fruits. Just skip the ones with candy.
  • Skip the packaged produce. There are bulk bins in the produce aisles too, below all the neatly prepackaged salad mixes and bags of baby carrots. Grab a plastic bag and use tongs to grab a bag of spinach or arugula. And another for unbundled carrots and mushrooms too. Be SURE to clean well when you get home.
  • Shop on sale! Check out the signs and store pamphlets for what fruits and vegetables are on sale, it typically means they are in season too.
  • Shop FROZEN. If you are like me and make spontaneous dinner plans, buying fresh fish and vegetables wont always do you good if it spoils before you have a chance to use it. So unless you’re SURE you’re cooking it in the next few days, it’s okay to buy fish, meat, and fruits and veggies from the freezer aisle. IT’s typically FAR less expensive too, which means you don’t have to feel bad spending the extra dollar or two on organic meat, right?
  • Go with a grocery list and a recipe. 90% of grocery store purchases are impulse buys and there it’s the worst to get home and having a fridge full of food with nothing to eat. This always reminds me of “a closet full of clothes with nothing to wear”. So shop smart and plan a little in advance.

Do you worry about your food budget? Are there items you more willing to spend money on than others?

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