Eating healthy without breaking the bank

Published 1:46 pm Saturday, February 29, 2020

Eating healthy is important for everyone, but sometimes walking down the organic aisle at the grocery store can drive us away. Bettering ourselves isn’t always inexpensive. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Choose My Plate” provides some tips on buying nutritious foods while staying within budget.

The first step is to create a “grocery game plan.” Get together with whoever you’re cooking for that week and plan out what meals to make. The USDA recommends seeing what you already have ingredient-wise, create a list of recipes to try, think about your schedule and plan on using leftovers.

Many of us have spices, condiments, poultry, vegetables and fruit already in our kitchen. Planning meals around what is already there can help save time and money while grocery shopping. The USDA suggests choosing meals you can easily prepare when time isn’t on your side. “Save recipes that take longer for days off. You also can prepare meals in advance to heat and serve on your busiest days.”

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Step two is to make your grocery list. Go over your weekly plan and see which ingredients you don’t have on-hand. “Don’t forget to include foods like fruits, vegetables and milk that might not be part of a recipe but are basics for healthy eating.”

To help organize your grocery list into different food group sections, the USDA has provided a template which can be found by going to https://choosemyplate-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/budget/grocery_list_interactive.pdf.

As most of us know, sometimes one grocery run per week isn’t always enough. The USDA recommends having an “on-going grocery list.” Keep track of the food you run out of on a list in the kitchen or your mobile phone. “Some mobile apps allow you to sync grocery lists with others in your household.”

Step three is saving more at the store. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice; ask friends and family where they shop to get the best bargains. Make sure to read sales flyers prior to going to the store so you can have coupons ready and know what the best deals are. The USDA also suggests eating before you shop. “Grocery shopping hungry can lead to impulse buying and unhealthy food choices.”

Some other helpful tips while shopping include grabbing items from the back of the shelf; the newest and freshest items are usually placed towards the back. Ask for a rain check if a sale item ran out: “This allows you to pay the sale price after the item is restocked.” Also, check farmers markets and fruit stands, which often provide fresh produce at a discount.

For more tips and tricks on eating healthy while staying in budget, visit https://www.choosemyplate.gov/eathealthy/budget.

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