Why Eating Healthy Won't Break The Bank

By Aaron Levitt | July 08, 2012 AAA

The average American family spends approximately $6,300 a year on food. In this era of rising food prices and dwindling household budgets, many consumers are already stretched to the limit when it comes to the monthly grocery budget. To that end, healthy eating habits often fall by the wayside as pocketbooks dictate food choice. Many people equate healthy eating to higher costs. However, nothing could be further from the truth. There are plenty of ways to enjoy healthy and nutritious foods while sticking to a budget and saving money. Here's a peek at how.
Size up the Grocery Store
It may seem like common sense and an old wives tale, but don't go shopping on an empty stomach. If your stomach is growling, you may be tempted to put those not-so-healthy potato chips and chocolate chip cookies into your cart. People who shop while hungry on average spend 10% more on their grocery bills than people who shop while full. Avoid the unhealthy choice temptation by eating before you shop. Also, a critical money saving move is to make a list and stick to it. Again, by sticking to a list you're more likely to not purchase unnecessary and unhealthy extras along your trip.

Secondly, shop the perimeter of the store first. That's where all of the healthier choices usually are and you'll avoid all the more processed and costly items that dot the aisle in the middle.

SEE: 5 Easy Ways To Save On Groceries

Organic Isn't Necessarily Better
One of the main benefits of buying organic foods is the lower levels of pesticides used in production. However, not all fruits and vegetables require that many extra fertilizers or pesticides in the first place. According to The Daily Green, fruits like mangoes and pineapples, along with veggies like onions and corn, can be bought in their traditional non-organic varieties without worrying about high levels of pesticides. Likewise, organic doesn't mean better nutrition. Nutritional content is equivalent for both organic and conventional foods.

For other produce, hit up the frozen food aisles. Again, most frozen fruits and veggies are picked at peak freshness and contain the same nutritional content as their fresh cousins. With frozen foods, you can use only the amount you need, reseal the package and return it to the freezer. If it's properly stored, there's no waste and no wasted money.

Buy Generic
It may seem like a no brainer, but many people still have an aversion to buying generic and store branded products. However, generic brands can provide great savings when shopping for healthy alternatives. Whether it's a national brand or store generic, all food manufacturers follow standards to provide safe food and beverage products of high quality. These days many grocery store chains now partner with national-branded products and simply put their own labels on the products.

SEE: Should You Buy Groceries Online

Cook and Buy in Bulk
Buying in bulk is another great technique to eating healthy on a budget. Buying in bulk is almost always cheaper and there are plenty of items that can be bought in bulk such as grains and dairy products. Buying a large bag of apples or pears will almost always save you money versus buying individual fruits priced by the pound. Likewise, the bulk bins in many grocery stores can be used to purchase dried beans, nuts and some grains at substantial savings to their canned and bagged forms.

If you're going to buy in bulk, why not cook in bulk as well. Prepare food in bulk and freeze the recipe into portions. This will not only save time in the kitchen, but dollars as well. Making a big batch of tomato sauce will ultimately be less expensive per portion than buying an equal amount of ready-to-eat sauce.

SEE: The Dark Side Of Bulk Buying

The Bottom Line
Eating healthy doesn't mean breaking the bank. The previous ideas are just some of the basic ways consumers can save money on healthy food options. Overall, your body and your wallet will thank you.

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