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Grocery Store Steals and Tips

How to Eat Right and Save Too!

-- By Liz Noelcke, Staff Writer

Trying to eat healthy on a tight budget? An important part of starting a healthy diet is to be supermarket savvy. At times, eating the nutritious stuff can cost a little more than the unhealthy foods you might consume, so it’s important to know how to get the most out of your buck when you stop at the store.

Here are some tips on how to save:

Plan your meals out for the week. You’ll be more likely to avoid impulse buying. Chances are, if you do succumb to spur of the moment shopping, you’ll not only add to your bill, but also make selections that are not the healthiest foods. Plus, if you have a plan for each night, you’ll be less likely to spend money at a restaurant.

Glance up and glance down! Some manufacturers actually pay more to have their food placed at eye level, and these products are often pricier than other brands. Better deals will probably be found above and below this. To save money, all you have to do is look.

Take your time. Go when you’re not in a rush and when you’re not tired. If possible, it’s also a good idea to go alone. You avoid little ones sneaking extras into the cart or fussing until you buy that box of new, cool dinosaur-shaped cookies. Save yourself the peace of mind and leave the kids at home. If you are able to go slowly and without distraction, you’ll have more time to hunt around for better buys. <pagebreak>

Bring a calculator. If you’re really serious about saving money, gauge the cost per ounce to compare different brands and sizes. The biggest size is not always the best deal. Be flexible with the brands that you buy. Oftentimes, the store brands taste just as good as the national brands and come at a fraction of the cost. Don’t be afraid to experiment. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Clip it. Coupons really can save you money. Yes, it takes time to go through the paper to find them. But in the long term, these can add up. A warning: only use coupons on items you are buying anyway. If you buy items you don’t want just because they are a "deal," you’re not putting your money to good use.

Shop in season. Fresh fruits and vegetables are an important part of any diet, but they can be costly. To avoid this, buy produce when you know it’s in season. It’ll be cheaper and taste fresher. For example, blueberries are in season from late spring through summer, so try picking up these nutrition powerhouses then. They’ll taste great, cost less, and give your diet a boost.

Grow it yourself. It might take a little extra time and energy. Still, not only is it cheaper in the long run, but there is nothing like the satisfaction that comes from serving food that you nurtured and cultivated yourself. These fruits and vegetables might even be healthier than the store’s produce: they won’t have been exposed to harsh pesticides or been transported on a truck. It might be unreasonable to expect you to farm dozens of plants, but a couple of pots on the deck or porch are pretty manageable.

Look for inexpensive items. Some fruits are cheaper than others, like bananas (loaded with potassium) , watermelon (in season), and oranges (especially in the winter). While apples are often cheap, the prices of other fruits, like pears, can beat them depending on the season.  Canned veggies, which can be just as nutritious as fresh varieties, make another affordable choice. Watch for cans of beans for around the same price. These are full of protein and are great additions to many recipes. Eggs, also a good source of protein, are cheaper than meat, too. A lot of healthy foods might be featured as weekly specials. Keep your eyes peeled for the deals.

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