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Eating Healthy on a Budget

-- 2011-05-30 1:00 am --

Many people look at rising food prices and feel that it’s impossible to eat a healthy whole-food diet on a budget. But switching to and maintaining a healthy diet can be cost-effective and even cheaper than a conventional diet if a few simple shopping habits are established.

Shop Around
Most local newspapers have a Sunday edition that includes weekly ads for local grocery stores, and many stores now have digital copies of their ads available online. Take advantage of whatever format is most convenient and look through each ad at the beginning of the week. Write down sales on items you need or that are frequently used in your home. Pay particular attention to sales on fresh fruits and vegetables, as these can be helpful starting points for your weekly dinner menu.

Cut (or Print) Coupons
In addition to ads, newspapers can be a source for money-saving coupons. Taking the time to look through these and cut out any that seem useful can help your budget a great deal. And as awareness of the benefits of healthy eating grows, so does the presence of coupons for things like grains, beans, and meat-free products.

It’s also possible to take advantage of coupons from a variety of online savings sites. Websites like Coupons.com and MamboSprouts.com allow you to browse through coupons for everything from organic pasta sauce to dairy-free “milks.” More healthy savings can be found at OrganicGroceryDeals.com, where users submit helpful information about shopping for organic foods, including current sales and discounts wholesale food.

Co-Ops & Farmer’s Markets
When you want a good selection of local foods or are looking for a source of specific products such as organic, non-GMO, vegan, or gluten-free, it’s time to seek out co-ops and farmer’s markets. Co-ops are member-owned operations that may have a retail presence or be strictly mail-order. Be sure to inquire on whether or not you need to be a member before buying from a co-op, and familiarize yourself with order deadlines of those that operate by mail. Many co-ops offer bulk discounts on items like grains, beans, and even everyday things like bread. If you’re willing to buy in quantity, you can save a great deal of money.

Farmer’s markets are the best place to find fresh produce from nearby farms. Doing this helps you save money in two ways. First, by buying what’s in season you choose from a variety of foods that are growing in abundance and are therefore readily available. Second, the produce at farmer’s markets travels a much shorter distance than what you find in grocery stores. Lower transportation costs means a lower price for you, the consumer.

Whether you’ve been wanting to eat healthier or are looking for ways to include more whole foods into your diet, it’s easy to fit your lifestyle to your budget. If you have other money-saving tips for people looking to improve their health, feel free to share them!