How to Get the Most Nutritional Bang for Your Buck

by Kristina LaRue, RD, CSSD, LDN
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How to Get the Most Nutritional Bang for Your Buck

Eating healthy is an investment in your well being. Unfortunately, it also requires an investment of money. Have you ever heard you should stick to the perimeter of the store? While it’s true you’ll find lots of healthy foods there, this tactic of buying only fresh fruits, veggies and proteins can put a big dent in your wallet. Truth be told, there are good-for-you finds in other sections of the grocery store. So how can you boost your intake of nutrient-rich foods without spending all your mad money? I’ve got seven tricks to help you spend the least for the most nutrition.

MAKE A MEAL PLAN (AND STICK TO IT)

Before heading to the grocery store, scan the store’s weekly ad to see what specials are running. Then, make a list of what you’re going to eat for the week based on these items. Do your best to include everything meals, snacks and drinks. Going to the store with a comprehensive list helps you avoid last-minute, unnecessary additions to the cart. Why? Because if you planned to snack on fruit-and-yogurt parfaits, you’ll be less tempted by those fresh-baked cookies. Wanna stretch your dollar even further? Clip coupons to use with the store specials.

ORDER ONLINE

Ummm … this little tip can change your life, and save time, too. Ordering online is more efficient, leaving more time for meal prep and fitness. It can also keep you from impulse shopping at the grocery store. You may also find it’s easier to browse sales and discounted items when shopping online. Not only will you save on impulse buys and gas money, many online services provide shoppers incentives like coupon codes for free delivery and money back.

FOREGO FRESH

Did you know 48% of fresh fruits and vegetables are tossed? Instead of letting fresh produce go to waste, consider buying frozen or canned. Now, maybe you’ve heard that freezing or canning destroys all of the nutrients? Not true! These fruits and veggies are picked, blanched and packaged within a few hours of harvest so you’re getting maximum nutrients for minimum price, which benefits your body and your wallet.

BUY IN BULK

When you buy in bulk, the up-front cost may be greater, but the cost-per-ounce is usually less. This is especially true for non-perishables like nuts, grains, seeds, dried fruit and frozen foods. I tend to stock up on these foods. Perishables, such as fruits, vegetables and meat can also be purchased in bulk as long as you store them properly. When you get home from shopping, wash, trim and place these items in freezer-safe storage containers. Frozen fruits and veggies are perfect for smoothies, while frozen meat can be thawed and cooked just like fresh.


READ MORE > 7 WAYS TO SAVE MONEY AT THE GROCERY STORE


SWAP IT OUT

Do you buy brown rice or white rice? What about whole-grain bread or white bread? Have you switched to Greek yogurt or are you still buying regular yogurt? Brown rice, whole-grain bread and Greek yogurt all pack a bigger nutritional punch than their counterparts. And that’s just the start of the swaps you can make. Consider popcorn over pretzels, a big bag of kale (to make kale chips) instead of potato chips, unsweetened tea over soda, a handful of nuts over a processed snack bar, dried fruit over fruit snacks or apple slices instead of crackers. Even better, there’s not a significant difference in the price when you make these swaps. If you take a close look at your diet, chances are there are a few foods you could swap out to maximize nutrients.

SHOP SEASONALLY

Pay attention to what produce is in-season. More often than not, stores run specials on seasonal fruits and veggies, making it the perfect opportunity for you to stock up and save. Better yet, produce that’s purchased in-season tends to be more nutrient-rich. Supply varies by location, growing conditions and weather. This is why strawberry season falls during the spring in the southern states, but doesn’t come around until the summer in the northern states.

GO LOCAL

Just like seasonal produce, local foods may be more nutritious. This is because there is not as much time or distance travelled between harvesting and selling. Frequent the local farmers markets, produce stands and farms as an alternative to the brick-and-mortar or online grocery stores. And don’t just buy produce going local is a great way to purchase fresh eggs, meat, honey and flowers, too.

Contrary to popular belief, eating healthy doesn’t have to break the bank. Keep these seven tips in mind before heading to the store to help you get the most nutritional bang for your buck all year long.

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