Shop Smarter at the Grocery

You’ve heard the old excuse before: Healthy eating is expensive. I can confidently call my food choices healthy—at least most of the time—but I’m also a cheapskate at heart. Luckily, I manage to eat healthy on a budget, thanks to a few simple swaps—some of which save calories, too!

Too pricey: Fresh berries, Smart swap: Frozen berries
Fresh berries are often very expensive, especially when they are out of season. Frozen berries cost much less and they’re just as nutritious for you. Plus, with frozen berries, you don’t have to worry about eating them before they go bad. Throwing away rotten food is like wasting money!

Too pricey: Instant oatmeal, Smart swap: Quick oats
Instant oatmeal is great in a pinch, but buying a huge canister of quick oats is a much more cost-effective option. If you compare unit price on the two items, it’s much more economical to purchase the quick oats. For an on-the-go option, I portion out 1/2 cup of quick oats, put them in a Tupperware container, and add hot water when I get to my destination. Plus instant packets are often packed full of added sugars (and calories!). I prefer to sweeten my bowl with more natural options, like thawed frozen berries.

Too pricey: Vegetable chips, Smart swap: Kale chips
As a salty snack, homemade kale chips are a great swap to expensive veggie chips. And at less than 50 calories per cup, they’re just a fraction of the calories as the store-bought stuff. While they do require some prep work, kale chips are incredibly easy to make. Just spray washed kale with cooking spray, season with sea salt, and bake at 350° for about 15 minutes. They taste just like potato chips!

Too pricey: Fresh salmon fillet, Smart swap: Canned salmon
We all know we should eat more fish, as it is rich in omega-3s, but buying fresh fish is not always friendly on my wallet. Instead, I swap fresh salmon for canned salmon, which is much less expensive, and I am still able to get those healthy omega-3s in my diet. Plus, salmon salad makes an über-tasty packed lunch.

Too pricey: Whey protein powder, Smart swap: Tofu
Tofu sometimes gets a bad rap due to its mushy texture and bland taste, but swapping it with expensive whey protein powder in my smoothies saves me quite a few dollars. As a healthy, hunger-fighting protein source, tofu blends right into my smoothies, but for a fraction of the price.

Too pricey: Lärabars, Smart swap: Nuts and dried fruit
Lärabars are one of my favorites snacks, but buying them every week definitely takes a toll on my budget. Instead, I eat dried fruit, like dates and prunes, and nuts, like almonds and walnuts, and save my Lärabars for a special treat. Eating dried fruit and nuts together makes a very filling snack that also satisfies my sweet tooth.

More tips for saving at the grocery store
Plan a week ahead. Impulse buys occur most when you shop already hungry for your next bite. You’ll also be more aware of when you’ll be home for meals and will be less likely to overbuy.

Check your fridge and pantry before you head out the door. You’ll be surprised at the random ingredients you already have which might spur your creativity for the coming meals.

Don’t be afraid to buy bruised or discounted produce. Just be sure that you will use it within the next few days before the bruising worsens or before the food becomes overripe.

Buy staples in bulk when possible and store them correctly. Although many people advise creating a list and sticking to it, don’t overlook sales on frequently used items just because you don’t need them this week.

Courtesy of Health.com

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