Healthy Eating while Saving

February 20, 2013

Today, more of us are trying to improve the nutrient quality of the foods we eat, but healthy eating on a budget can seem challenging. Here are SupermarketGuru's top tips

Today, more of us are trying to improve the nutrient quality of the foods we eat, whether it is avoiding certain added ingredients or choosing foods that are more nutrient dense. As food prices continue to rise, however, it is getting harder to do. So here are a few of my tips to eat healthier and save money:

Don't skip the leafy greens! Kale, arugula, and spinach are some of the most nutritious and affordable foods you will find in a grocery store. The darker the color, the more nutritious. Many salad greens are also a good source of vitamin C, potassium, fiber and other phytonutrients. Rather than buying the pre-packaged bags of lettuce, go for the fresh heads. They are cheaper. However, if your store has automatic misters, and the greens are priced per pound, be sure to shake off the excess water.

Canned tomatoes are an excellent source of the heart-healthy antioxidant, lycopene, which your body absorbs more easily from cooked tomatoes than it does from raw. Make your own pasta sauce from crushed tomatoes: add a tablespoon of olive oil and some spices, and you'll have a great sauce for about a buck (rather than three to six dollars), and you'll be avoiding those added sugars and other ingredients. Look for canned tomatoes that are naturally steam peeled.

Cheese. Because of the "Standard of Identity," set by the USDA Federal Standards, natural cheeses like Swiss, Cheddar, and Monterey Jack that are aged for the same time from the same state, are the same quality, whether they are bought from the dairy case, deli or cheese table. Cheeses from the dairy case are wrapped in clear plastic, versus fancier packaging found elsewhere; this trick may save you up to 40 percent.

Go fish! But don't buy it from the "fresh" fish table. Look at those signs: most will say "previously frozen." Head over to the frozen fish section, where you'll find salmon, tilapia, sole, shrimp - all the basics are here - at about half the cost. And they are better, since they are frozen only once. Typically when fish is caught, it is put on ice or in a freezer on the boat, as the boat is on the water for weeks at a time. When it is brought to shore, it defrosts and is shipped to the supermarket. Then the store puts these "fresh" fish on ice again. Be sure to also read the country of origin label, which is usually on the back of the package, to make sure you know where the fish is coming from. About 80 percent of previously frozen and frozen fish is now imported.

What tips can you share about saving money and eating healthier?