Eating Healthy on a Budget

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Rising grocery prices constantly seem to be a concern, but when you're trying to eat healthy on limited funds, the issue can be especially tough.

But skimping on nutrition to save a couple dollars could lead to bigger costs down the road. And any nutritionist will argue that it is in fact possible to eat well on a budget.

Here are some tips that TODAY show nutrition and diet editor Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D., CNS, offered up on the TODAY show site:

  • When grocery shopping, make sure your list is written out beforehand, and stick to it. Look for and stock up on coupons before you go, and shop just once a week.
  • Don't go grocery shopping on an empty stomach, or you might be tempted to snatch up unhealthy snacks that only drive up the grocery bill.
  • Shop the perimeter of the store first, where the healthy choices (like fruit, meat and dairy) usually are.
  • Look for sales on fresh fruits and vegetables. Stores sometimes get bargains that they pass on to you.
  • Choose a large bag of fruit, instead of single, large fruits priced per pound.
  • Get frozen fruit and vegetables to make them last longer. Skip ones packed in sauces, and look for low-salt options. Freeze your own berries during the summer, when prices are low.
  • Buy generic. They usually have the same nutritional value as the brand names, whether they're canned, frozen or bagged.
  • Try to buy local foods that are in season.
  • Make your own snacks instead of buying the pre-portioned 100-calorie packs, and cut down on the number of snacks you buy. "Make a family decision — choose one treat from the chip and cookie categories, and buy a large bag of each for the week," says Dr. Fernstrom. "No need for multiple bags of snacks. Most processed snack foods are expensive and typically provide little if any nutritional punch."
  • Buy sale items that you know you'll use later on. Meat and poultry can be divided and frozen for later use, for example.
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