Eat healthy and slash your grocery bill

by: Julie Schwartz, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, ACSM-HFS

There is a common misperception that healthy eating is expensive. But it doesn’t have to be that way. I proved the point recently when CNN asked me to go grocery shopping with Shavalerie Thurman, mother of two teen-aged sons. Here are some of the tips I shared with Shavalerie that will work for you and your family, too:

  • Cook from scratch. Preparing simple meals from scratch or with limited prepared ingredients is a great way to stretch your budget and eat more nutritiously. For example, you can save .30 cents per pound when you make your own burgers versus buying the preformed patties. This also allows you to select the type of meat you want to use – don’t be afraid to try ground chicken breast or turkey breast for a low fat alternative to ground beef.
  • Stock up on fruits and vegetables. Not only are fruits and veggies good for your body but they are also good for your wallet. A complete daily allowance of fruits and vegetables costs on average just $2.50 per person. Choose fruits and vegetables that are locally in season for more savings and more delicious flavor. And, be sure to load up on the brightly colored fruits and vegetables; color is often nature’s way of showing us food with high concentrations of the vitamins and minerals we need.
  • Choose protein carefully. Protein is often the most expensive portion of the meal. Protein doesn’t always have to come in the form of a chicken breast or meatloaf. Think outside the pork chop and consider other sources of protein including eggs, beans, cheese, and soy. These are excellent sources of protein that can be prepared in multiple ways to please your family and often cost a fraction of meat products. Also, think about the amount of protein you need to serve at every meal. Most Americans consume more protein than is necessary, so consider reducing the amount of protein at some meals and replacing it with whole grains, vegetables and fruits.
  • Go for fresh, when possible. Instead of frozen french fries purchase fresh red or white potatoes, slice them, add some seasoning and bake for 30 minutes. Even making salad from scratch vs. opening a bag can save you money and only takes a few extra minutes of time.

Incorporate these tips into your next trip to the grocery store and see how you can eat healthy while reducing your grocery bill.

For more great tips, watch this Recipes for Wellness cooking segment. In this video, Emory bariatric surgeon Jahnavi Srinivasan, M.D. helps prepare super simple No-Bake Fruit and Nut Bars. These easy-to-make bars can be combined with milk and fruit for a quick breakfast or by themselves as an afternoon snack.

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