Healthy eating on a budget

April 26, 2009 6:11:37 AM PDT
By following just a few guidelines, you can minimize food costs while maximizing efforts for a healthy lifestyle. Weight Watchers leader Janice Mielarczyk joined us with tips. 1. Develop a Budget: First, identify the amount of money you are comfortable spending on food each week. Next, develop a list of staples for weekly purchase, such as low-fat milk, whole-grain products, fruits and vegetables, and lean cuts of meat. As part of the Weight Watchers Momentum Program, these are known as filling foods because they've been scientifically proven to keep you satisfied longer. Tip: Most of these items are located on the perimeter of the grocery store.

2. BYO: A person can easily spend up to $10 a day stopping for a morning latte and eating out for lunch - not to mention a few stops at the vending machine. To cut down on costs "bring your own - BYO!" Bring a thermos of coffee from home to drink throughout the day. Bring a small cooler and pack it with sugar-free soda and a healthy lunch. According to the lunch savings calculator on American Public Media, brown bagging it can save you $70 per month!

3. Buy in Bulk: When lean meats go on sale, stock up and freeze the extras or share with family and friends. Buying larger quantities at discount or warehouse stores can also cut costs.

4. Find the Freezer: If fresh produce is too expensive, buy frozen or canned alternatives. Most grocery stores even offer generic brands of frozen and canned favorites.

5. Be a Bean Counter: Beans are rich in fiber, plus they're a cheaper protein source than meat. Beans bulk up salads, soups and are great in tortillas.

6. Do It Yourself: Grate your own cheese, clean and shred your own lettuce, and chop your own fruit salads instead of buying pricey packaged convenience items. Generally, supermarkets increase the cost of fruits and vegetables when they cut and package them.

Grow It: Whether it's a small patch in the backyard or a few pots on your balcony, an initial investment in a few garden supplies will produce a bounty of fresh produce.

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