How to Eat Healthy for Less

Who doesn't want to be healthier? The problem is that a better diet always seems to come with a bigger pricetag. Here are eight easy ways to eat healthy for less, courtesy of nutritionist Theresa Albert.

Photo composite: Fast food burger on the left, salad and milk on the right.

1. Change your definition of "health food"

Buying local, organic or gourmet can sometimes be challenging. Instead, think of health food as whole food. That means eating foods that your grandparents would be familiar with: fresh fruits and veggies, unprocessed meats and whole grains. These "health foods" can be found in the outside aisles of your local grocery store.

2. Buy inexpensive cuts of meat

Inexpensive cuts of meat are some of the most flavourful but they do take a little more time to prepare. Theresa recommends using a slow cooker to bring cheap cuts of beef or pork to their full potential.

Chicken is also a great choice. Reduce its cost by discarding the skin and bones yourself or by purchasing a whole chicken and butchering it at home.

As for seafood, buy frozen instead of fresh and opt for canned tuna and salmon for lunches.

Compare: $7.99/lb. prime rib roast vs. $3.99/lb. boneless cross rib roast

3. Purchase out-of-season fruits and veggies frozen

Out-of-season fruits and vegetables can cost a fortune and often lose much of their nutritional value in transport. If you can't get your hands on fresh, local produce, opt for frozen. Both fruits and veggies are typically frozen soon after being picked so they retain most of their nutrients in the process. You can also buy in bulk and freeze your own if you come across a great deal.

Compare: $1.75/100 g fresh blueberries (out of season) vs. $0.88/100 g frozen blueberries

4. Skip individual portions

There is no doubt that individually packaged products, such as cheese, yogurt or dips, are convenient, but they can cost twice as much. Buy inexpensive containers and portion things yourself. Don't pay good money for someone else to lay hands on your food.

Compare: $3.01/100 g individually packaged cheese vs. $1.88/100 g block of cheese

5. Spice things up at the bulk store

Buy spices in bulk and you'll see major savings! Avoid saffron, cardamom and pure vanilla; these three top the most-expensive-spices list. Also, use blends instead of buying five spices separately that you may never use again. Popular mixes include Italian seasoning, curry powder and chili powder.

Compare: $7.97/100 g brand name allspice vs. $1.93/100 g bulk allspice

6. Opt for store brands

Most supermarket chains have now expanded their store brands to include reduced-sodium, low-fat and organic versions of many commonplace items. These come at a fraction of the cost of their brand name counterparts.

Compare: $2.19 brand name whole wheat pasta vs. $1.79 store-brand whole wheat pasta

7. Skip prepared fruits and veggies

Baby carrots, prewashed salad and minced garlic all come at a premium. Set aside a couple of hours each week to do the cleaning and chopping yourself and you'll save a bundle. Wrap veggies in paper towel, then plastic to retain their freshness for longer.

Compare: $1.97/lb. baby carrots vs. $0.98/lb. whole carrots

8. Eat at home

The best way to save on your grocery bill is to cook and eat at home. It's a common misconception that fast food is cheaper than healthy food.

Compare: $27.07 fast food dinner for family of four vs. $15.17 homemade dinner for family of four

 

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