Who likes spending their entire bank account at the grocery store? Advertisers and big businesses lead you to believe that expensive foods are the best, most nutritious choices. It's easy to get lured in by that sales pitch, but with a few tips, you can become a smarter shopper who saves money while loading up on healthy foods. Next time you're at the grocery, think "canned, frozen and in-season."
Tip 1: Don't kick the can!
Canned foods are nutritious alternatives to their fresh counterparts, and as a bonus for your wallet, they typically cost less. Healthy foods abound in cans. Just be sure to do a little label reading. Choose sodium-free or low-sodium options, and when purchasing canned fruit, look for those packed in their own juice, not syrup.
Canned meats and seafoods are another great option, but select cans where the meat or seafood is packed in water, not oil. Canned beans, vegetables, meats, seafood and fruits are packed with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. They should be a pantry staple in every athlete's kitchen.
Cost breakdown: One 15.5-ounce can of beans (3 ½ servings) costs about $1, so a one half-cup serving is about 30 cents—a steal considering it's a low-fat food high in fiber and rich in protein, iron, folate and potassium. That's high-powered nutrition!
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Tip 2: Find it fantastically frozen
A quick visit to the frozen food section reveals more than just prepared foods. Along with the salt-laden boxed meals, you'll notice a number of healthy foods, including frozen vegetables, fruits, meats, seafood and even grains. The variety of these whole foods has increased for good reason—consumers are demanding nutritious foods that are inexpensive and available year-round.
Because these foods are typically picked, packaged and frozen at the peak of freshness, they are loaded with flavor and bursting with nutrition. Even frozen meats are good, nutritious options, and they usually cost a lot less than the same cuts of meat sold at the meat counter.
Cost breakdown: A 1-pound bag of frozen vegetables, which serves five, costs around $1.50. That means that a half-cup serving only costs 30 cents. As for protein, a 3-pound box of frozen, boneless, skinless chicken breasts, which serves about 10, costs about $13. That means one chicken breast costs about $1.30.
Tip 3: 'Tis the Season
Have you noticed how some foods in the produce section appear and disappear depending on the time of the year? In the winter you may notice bins bursting with fresh citrus, and in the summer those same bins are full of pints of fresh strawberries. Most produce has a growing and harvesting season. It's during those times that those foods are at their best, and least expensive.
Stock up on fresh, nutritious produce when it costs less and tastes delicious. The next time you are at the grocery, look around and see what's filling up those bins. Notice how inexpensive those foods are. Those are the items that are at their peak. If you're unsure, ask the produce expert at the store. They have great insight and can lead you to picking the best, most inexpensive produce.
Cost breakdown: Fresh strawberries are best during the summer months and are a great source of low-calorie nutrition. They provide Vitamin C, folate, fiber and potassium—nutrients that help keep the body healthy and functioning at its peak. A pound of strawberries costs about $4 during the winter months, but in the summer it can cost as low as $1. Buy them at their peak and freeze any extras to enjoy year-round.
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