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Healthy Eating on a Budget

Ensuring you are getting the most nutrition for your dollar is more important than ever. There are many ways to save on the healthy foods you love. Follow these tips for budget friendly eating!

Cook at Home and Limit Eating Out

Eating out can be expensive. Many foods can be prepared for less money (and more healthfully) at home. Start with dressing half of your plate with fruits or veggies. From there, you can add your lean protein of choice and a serving of whole grains. Getting back to basics is best! Pre-packaged foods, like frozen dinners and packaged pasta or rice mixes can also add up when you calculate the cost per serving. Find a few simple, healthy recipes your family enjoys and save eating out for special occasions.

Plan Ahead

Deciding on meals and snacks before you shop can save both time and money. Review recipes and make a grocery list of what ingredients are needed, then check to see what foods you already have and make a list for what you still need to buy. When shopping with a list you will be less likely to buy things that are not on it. To “Create a Grocery Game Plan”, visit MyPlate.gov.

Shop Smart

Check the local newspaper and online or at the store for sales and coupons, especially when it comes to more expensive ingredients, such as meat and seafood. While at the store, compare prices of different brands and different sizes of the same brand to see which has a lower unit price. The unit price is usually located on the shelf directly below the product.

Shop In Season

Fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season are usually easier to get and may be less expensive. Frozen and canned produce are also good options and may be more affordable at certain times of the year. Look for fruit that is canned in 100% juice or water and canned vegetables that are labeled “low in sodium” or “no salt added”.

Be Aware of Portion Size

Eating too much of even lower cost foods and beverages can add up to extra dollars and calories.
Use smaller plates, bowls and glasses to help keep portions under control. Fill half your plate with fruits
and vegetables and the other half with grains and protein foods such as lean meat, poultry, seafood
or beans. This is an easy way to eat a balanced meal while controlling portions and cost. To complete
the meal, add a glass of fat-free or low-fat milk or a serving of fat-free yogurt for dessert.

Get Creative

Convenience costs money. Many snacks, even healthy ones, usually cost more when sold individually. Make your own snacks by purchasing large tubs of low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese and dividing them into smaller containers. For trail mix, combine unsalted nuts, dried fruit and whole grain pretzels or cereal; store small portions in airtight containers. Air-popped popcorn and whole fresh fruits in season also tend to cost less compared to pre-packaged items.

DIY or Support Local!

A garden can be a lot of fun, especially for kids. It’s also an affordable way to eat more fruits and
vegetables. Plants can be started from seed or purchased at a low price. Another way to increase your family’s variety of produce is to visit a farmers market. Locally grown fruits and vegetables are often available for less money than at the grocery store. Check and see where the closest farmers market is in your area.