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If it seems like the leanest meats and the freshest vegetables are driving up your grocery bill, you’re not crazy, says Elizabeth Schaub, R.D., L.D., CDE, an outpatient dietitian at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make healthy choices on a budget. Schaub offers these tips.
1. Be aware of how far produce travels. “Buying local can be cheaper,” Schaub says. “Even at farmers markets, you need to ask if the food is local. If it’s not, the price can be just as high as a grocery store.”
2. Buy in season. You’ll save the most money by buying fruits and vegetables when they’re in season. That means choosing citrus fruits and broccoli in the winter; pineapple, peas and asparagus in the spring, berries, melons and tomatoes in the summer; and apples, eggplant and sweet potatoes in the fall.
3. Buy in bulk. “It’s almost always cheaper when you buy in bulk,” Schaub says. She suggests buying whole grains such as brown rice, oats, barley and whole-wheat pasta, as well as beans and legumes, in bulk.
When a lean cut of meat goes on sale, stock up, she says. “Buy 8 pounds of lean ground meat when it goes on sale. At home, portion it out into 1-pound packages and freeze it for up to three to four months for the best quality.”
Fruits and vegetables are not ideal for bulk purchases because they’ll go bad before you can eat them, but it can work if you split it with a friend, Schaub suggests.
4. Choose choice meats. You may think that prime meats are the best, but they come with a cost, and they aren’t always the healthiest option. “There are several choice cuts of meat that are actually low in fat,” Schaub says. Look for New York strip steaks or bottom rounds.
5. Don’t forget about frozen and canned veggies. They last longer and help you stretch your dollar. Look for low sodium and low sugar options.
6. Do some of the work yourself. Make your own hamburgers rather than buying premade patties. Grate and slice your own cheese. “The less processing something goes through, the cheaper it is,” Schaub says. “It does take a little longer in the kitchen, but when money is of concern, what’s another five or 10 minutes?”
7. Skip the chips and candy. Not buying junk food instantly saves you cash. “If you’re going to spend your money,” Schaub says, “spend it on foods that are healthy for you.”
To learn how Baylor Plano’s registered dietitians can help you develop a healthy eating plan to achieve your goals, click here.
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