You can shop healthy with a manageable amount of expense. Here’s a dozen ways to take care of your health at the grocery store without breaking the bank, thanks to HealthNet’s Health Promotions staff:
- Clip, save and use coupons. Stick with only the items you use.
- Check out the store flyer for sale items as you enter.
- Stick to the edges of the store. For the most part, this is where the healthy choices are – less processed foods and more fruits and vegetables, dairy and meat.
- Don’t shop hungry! You’ll buy more than you need.
- Watch the shelves. Stores put items they most want to sell on the shelves between knee and shoulder height. The highest markup items are the ones about chest level. These are easy to grab and toss into the cart.
- The store brand is cheaper than national brands.
- Fruits and vegetables: Pre-cut fruits and veggies can be expensive. Buy in season. It’s cheaper to buy produce in the bag and not by the piece like apples, oranges and potatoes. Check out the freezer aisle. Frozen vegetables can be an economical way to get your veggie servings, but stay away from added creams, sauces, butter or sugar.
- Breads, cereals and pasta: Choose the least processed foods that are made with whole grains. Aim for 4 grams of fiber and less sugar. To help your family get used to whole grains, you can start out with a blend of whole grains and slowly go to 100%. Buy your grains and cereals in bulk like brown rice, barley and rolled oats. Oatmeal in the canister is less than the instant flavored envelopes.
- Meat, poultry and fish: Lean can be pricey. You can choose less expensive cuts of meat, but you have to practice portion control. Buy larger packs. Use what you can eat and freeze the rest. Tilapia and sole may be more affordable. Choose frozen fish fillets or fish steaks, but stay away from breaded or marinated fish. Canned fish and chicken are great options for sandwiches, salads, and casseroles.
- Other sources of protein: Beans are cheap and a great source of protein. Buy in bulk. Another low cost item that is healthy is the egg. Try going meatless once a week.
- Dairy: Non-fat or low fat milk does not cost any more than whole or 2% milk. Buy a large container of plain yogurt and add your own sweetener like honey or fruit. Buy blocks of reduced-fat cheese and grate it yourself. Shredded or sliced cheese is more expensive.
- Ignore the checkout displays!
Here’s another bargain for you. In partnership with Garden on the Go, HealthNet’s Health Promotions team helps low-income families access affordable, fresh produce in their neighborhoods — and learn the whys and hows of eating healthier. #GiveACareAbout reducing barriers for families in need. Along with coaching from a dietitian, a $5 donation provides a small financial incentive for a family to try fresh fruits and vegetables and begin making healthy lifestyle choices. With your help, we can do even more to help families in Indy.
Want more healthy shopping tips? Stop by our booth today through Sunday at the INShape Indiana Black & Minority Health Fair at Indiana Black Expo’s Summer Celebration in the Indiana Convention Center. Learn how to stay healthy on a budget — and sign up for a prize drawing to win a grocery store gift card!
What healthy grocery shopping tips work for you?
What’s your favorite farmer’s market?