Press-Republican

Cornell Cooperative Extension

March 5, 2013

Eating better on a budget

A loaf of white bread for $1 or a loaf of whole wheat bread for $2. Is it worth the cost? Can you afford it?

Some nutritious choices will certainly add to your grocery bill, but not every nutritious choice is more expensive. With some planning, comparing and preparing, you can eat healthy on a budget.

First of all, think about what is truly healthy. Many choices we make that we see as healthy choices are influenced by marketing and our beliefs.

An organic rice pilaf mix, all-natural canned soup and reduced-fat potato chips all may be healthier than their alternatives but may not be worth the cost when you consider how good they actually are for you.

Some words we see on labels are strictly regulated, like the term organic. Buying organic is a good choice when you can afford it, but check out lists of foods that have more or less pesticides when produced by traditional methods if you are shopping on a budget and make your organic dollars count.

The reduced-fat claim means only that the product must have at least 25 percent less fat than the original version. A reduced-fat potato chip will still have a lot more fat than carrot sticks.

The term “natural,” when applied to a label, is very vague and means different things for different types of food, so read the ingredient list before paying more for a natural food.

So how can you save money at the grocery store? First, I must admit some unhealthy foods are cheap and some healthy foods are expensive. The best way to get more healthy foods into your diet is to compare prices of all foods and make less expensive healthy purchases more often.

Comparing prices can be very easy if you use the unit price at the grocery store. It is the little price in the corner of the counter tag, not the total price you pay. It is great for comparing similar items.

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