SHOPPING FOR HEALTHY FOODS WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK

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Want to eat healthy food but think you can’t afford to? Think again. Healthy food doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Here are 6 tips for how to shop smart at the grocery store. These tips can help you fill your cart with healthy food without emptying your bank account.

1. Stick to your shopping list. Once you have your grocery list in hand, the key is to stick to the list! It may help to go shopping on a full stomach. If you’re hungry, you may be more likely to make impulse buys.

2. Compare costs. As you shop for items on your list, compare the unit price of items. You don’t have to be a math whiz to do this, although it can seem a bit daunting at first. Unit prices are often displayed on the shelf below the food item. They tell you how much the food costs per ounce, per pound, or per some other unit of measurement. You can use the unit price to compare prices on smaller or larger packages.

3. Buy generic or store brands. Remember that a brand name does not always mean better quality. In fact, the ingredients in store and generic brand items are often the exact same as those in national brand items. Being flexible about your buying choices can help you save money.

4. Avoid processed foods and “junk foods.” Limit how many processed foods and “junk foods” you buy. These foods tend to cost more. And they are also often higher in fat, calories, sugar, and salt than whole foods or foods fixed at home. You pay more for the fancy packaging, shipping, and convenience of these items. But you get much less for your money in terms of the amount of food and how healthy the food is.

Most grocery stores stock processed foods in the inner aisles. And they stock fresh produce, seafood, meat, dairy, and other whole foods around the perimeter. So try to shop along the perimeter for the most part and stock up on fresh, whole foods. Eating whole foods can help save you money over time.

5. Buy in bulk. This works well for foods like grains and canned goods, which have a longer shelf life. It also works well for items that you can freeze. When you buy in larger amounts, you can often buy the product at a lower cost. You might also want to try buying from bulk food bins, which can cost less than buying the same food pre-packaged. The grocery store buys the foods in bulk food bins at a lower cost and can pass along some of the savings to you. This also saves you from paying for the brand name and the cost of their packaging, which is always reflected in the prices on the shelves. And you can choose the amount of food you want, which saves you from paying for and maybe wasting food or eating more than you meant to.

6. Show protein know-how. Check the meat/poultry/seafood departments for weekly specials and sales. You may even want to buy some items when they are on sale and freeze them for future use. Remember to be mindful of healthy portion sizes to get the most out of the money you spend.

Look for less costly, healthy protein options. Think lean protein, like skinless, boneless chicken breasts as opposed to well-marbled rib-eye steaks. Try budget-friendly fresh fish, like tilapia or trout. And don’t overlook frozen or canned seafood, which can also be a great bargain.

And don’t forget to look for other low-cost but healthy protein sources. For instance, eggs and dairy products are rich in protein. There are also plant-based proteins like beans, nuts, and nut butters. These sources of protein are less expensive but they are just as nutritious.

Keep these 6 tips in mind during your next trip to the grocery store. They can help you stick to your budget while stocking up on nutritious, delicious food.