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Eating healthy on a budget

It costs too much to eat healthy, right? That’s one of the top excuses health experts hear about why people don’t eat well.

According to a recent study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) the cost of feeding a family of four can run between $146 to $289 a week and is based on eating a healthy balanced diet, but you can save more if you’re a savvy shopper.

“It is possible to eat healthy and stick to a budget, but the key is planning,” said Julie Smith, a dietitian on the staff at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.

If you have a few grocery stores near you, get their ad circulars. Every week you can see what specials they have, some stores even price match a competitors ad.

Try these three things when considering shopping and building a healthy plan on a budget:

1.  Know when to buy organic

Buying organic produce is ideal to avoid pesticide contamination, but it can be costly. There are some fruits and vegetables that you should buy organic over another.

Julie Smith uses the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists. They tell you which produce is most contaminated with pesticides and the ones that are the least.

“Explore."

2.  Only buy what you’ll eat

Sure oranges are four for-a-dollar, but does that mean you’re going to eat 12 of them?

We tend to buy more than we need because something is a good deal, but when it comes to produce you can be throwing money away. Most produce only lasts a week unless you freeze it.

Frozen strawberries and blueberries are good for smoothies, and freezing veggies will not save you money but time when cooking.

“Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season, they will not only be less expensive, but they’ll also taste better,” Smith said.

3.  Stick to a budget

It is important to prioritize your needs over wants.

Cutting back on trips to the coffee shop or to the restaurant will help with your bottom line and your waist line. Sure the dollar menu at the fast food restaurant may be cheaper in the short run, but you’ll pay for it with your health down the road.

What tips do you use to keep your shopping list within budget while staying healthy?

About the author

Craig Civale
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Craig is a storyteller at heart. He joined Baylor after a 15-year career as an award-winning broadcast journalist, most recently at WFAA-TV in Dallas as a reporter.

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Eating healthy on a budget