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Healthy Shopping on a Budget

White Plains Hospital

October 8, 2020

Healthy Shopping on a Budget

How to supersize your grocery savings.

Americans spend a lot of money on food, particularly in the grocery store. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, couples spend $405 to $805 a month on groceries, while a family of four could pay between $590 and $1,152 dollars per month.

Many resourceful shoppers have already caught on to couponing, buying in bulk and searching for sales in order to stretch their food budgets. Here are some additional tips that can save you money while helping your family stay healthy:

Make a List. “Having a list before entering the store is a big part of saving money,” says Cat Cavotta, a Wellness Coach for White Plains Hospital. “Keep it simple, go in with a plan.” By making a list, you can avoid expensive and unhealthy impulse buying. Planning ahead may not only save you money, you can also use your list as a guide to better health by shopping for more natural foods.

Be an outsider. Cavotta recommends starting your shopping at the perimeter of the grocery store. “The outside aisles are where you’ll usually find healthier whole foods like grains, fresh vegetables, meats, and dairy products,” notes Cavotta. “The middle aisles, the heart of the store, is where you’ll find most of the tempting processed junk foods or unhealthy choices loaded with fats, sugars, preservatives, and sodium.”

Nutrient Dense Makes Sense. Shop for healthier proteins and fats like lean meat, eggs, cheese and dairy. You’ll get more bang for your buck and more nutrients as well. You also don’t have to eat as much of them to have a healthy, balanced diet. “I always encourage people to make their meals fresh from scratch,” says Cavotta. “Prepared and frozen meals don’t have the same amount of vitamins and are not the healthiest choices.”

Be a smart seasonal shopper. Most of us are used to being able to buy whatever food we want whenever we want it. But out-of-season fruits and vegetables in particular can be less flavorful and carry less nutrients than their in-season counterparts, and they’re also generally more expensive.
When it comes to fruits and vegetables, for further savings, you can go straight to the source and shop at a farmer's market where the produce comes directly from the farmers and eliminates shipping and processing costs. Plus, you'll be supporting local, small businesses.

Finally, love your leftovers. Plan meals so that you have leftovers for lunch the next day.  This will help you save money and meal planning will help you cut down on food waste. According to a study by College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State, the average American family wastes nearly 30% of food, totaling approximately $1,800 per year.

With just a few new habits, you can lower your monthly grocery bill and contribute to improving your health. Who knows, with the money saved you can buy that new grill you’ve had your eye on, or go out to dinner and let someone else do the cooking for a change.

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