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Eating Well on a Tight Budget

Here are some tips for maximizing your money while still eating right:

  • You may have to do some comparison shopping to identify the store that will give you the most value for your dollar. Bring a list to the grocery store, and stick to it.
  • Eat a light snack before you shop to reduce impulse buying-don't shop hungry.
  • Shop around the perimeter of the store where fresh foods like fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat and fish are normally located.
  • Choose foods with as little processing and as few additives as possible.
  • Choose fruits, vegetables and meats that are on sale and use coupons. Coupons change from week to week, and you can freeze anything extra that you pick up on sale.
  • Buy produce in season because it is usually priced to sell.
  • Consider buying generic store brands because they are generally the same quality as national brands but with a different label.
  • Avoid buying individually bottled drinks.
  • Avoid foods that contain artificial ingredients or ingredients you cannot pronounce.
  • Look up recipes that use specific ingredients that you know you can get cheaply.
  • Stock cupboards with quick, easy, cheap items: beans, brown rice, pasta, low sodium soup, frozen produce, condiments, canned fish and eggs.
  • Double recipes, and freeze half for later in the week.
  • Buy nonperishables in bulk when they are on sale.
  • Beans are an inexpensive and healthy source of protein.

Shopping at the grocery store can seem like an intimidating task full of temptations. If you make a list of healthy items you want to buy, you are less likely to impulse shop and stick to the items you need. You can even plan out a week's worth of meals and buy all of the ingredients at once. That way, you can plan to eat healthy every night and won't have to make multiple trips to the grocery store.

Impulse buys are very common in the grocery store and, if you're hungry, you are more likely to give in to buying what you're craving and not what you should be eating. Go to the grocery store after a healthy meal when you are feeling satisfied-not famished.

Pre-packaged foods can contain lots of unhealthy chemicals and preservatives and are often high in sodium, sugar and fat (however, this does not include frozen produce). You're also paying for the convenience and fancy package. If you make your own food with fresh ingredients not only will you save money, but you also can control every last thing that goes into your food and your body.

Stick to the perimeter of the grocery store where the healthier foods are located. If you think about the layout of the grocery store, you will realize that the freshest produce, such as fruits and vegetables, are stocked around the store's perimeter. Why even tempt yourself by walking through the aisles full of junk food and sugary sodas?

And finally, shop sales, buy in bulk with a friend and split large quantities and check out discount grocery outlets that usually offer a selection of healthy and fresh foods at reasonable prices. For more tips on healthy grocery shopping on a budget, visit WebMD and The Diet Channel's Web site.

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