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August 4, 2011

Eat healthy on a budget: 7 ways to be a grocery guru

BIRMINGHAM — Buying fresh foods and trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle can put a damper on your wallet. A study released this week in the Health Affairs journal says that eating according to the federal government’s nutritional guidelines can add $380 to your yearly grocery bill. 

So how do you eat right without blowing your whole paycheck? Check out these tips for savvy shopping.

Plan ahead. If you’re prone to losing or forgetting your shopping list at home, plan on using an electronic version like the MealBoard app. It lets you store your own recipes and create weekly meal plans. It even lists grocery prices for the budget-conscious user. If you stick to your list and avoid shopping on an empty stomach, you can avoid spur-of-the-moment unhealthy choices.

Clip coupons. The skeptic may say that a majority of the products listed in your grocer’s weekly advertisements are not those that they would normally shop for, but the savings may surprise you. The electronic age has brought a whole new name to coupon savings, which can be easily done from home by visiting your grocery store’s website for featured sale items. 

Frequent shopper. By signing up for your store’s loyalty card membership program, you will be offered various ways to save on groceries. This may be rewarding to you as long as if you make appropriate choices; keep yourself in check by following your shopping list and avoiding temptations. 

Check the freezer aisle. Frozen fruits and vegetables are quick and easy to use and can be as nutritious as the fresh variety. Frozen fruits can be used to make a refreshing smoothie and frozen veggies can be eaten as a quick side dish at dinner. 

Go generic. Buying the store brand is often less expensive and can provide great savings. The nutritional value is the same as the brand name, whether it is canned, frozen or bagged foods. Be sure that the canned fruits you are buying are in 100 percent juice or water. 

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