Healthy Cooking

 


assorted fruit

 


Saving Money on Foods Costs

 

When comparison shopping, it is good to buy the foods that cost the least per pound. However, that should not be your only consideration. Another big issue for families on a tight budget is not just where to buy foods the cheapest, but what foods to buy. If you want to eat healthy and cheap, then buying foods that are both inexpensive and nutritious is really the best route.

Most dietary guidelines are not based on how many pounds of food people should eat each day, but how many calories they should eat, and how many vitamins and minerals they should consume each day. So in order to decide what foods are really the cheapest, we need to find out how to get the most nutrition for our food dollars, not the most food by volume. Sure everyone hears the stories of master coupon cutters who feed a family of six on $50 a week, but are those families getting fresh and nutritious foods that will maintain health for that amount, or are they loading up on discounted but normally high priced convenience foods filled with sugar, salt, empty calories, refined starches, chemical preservatives and hydrogenated oils?

Skimping on nutritious food can save money in the short term, but over the long term thousands of thousands of medical studies have shown that a diet of processed foods lacking in fresh fruit and vegetables can lead to heart disease, cancer, diabetes and many more modern ailments. Manufacturers tend to offer coupons on processed foods with high markups. It isn't that often you'll find coupons for items like romaine lettuce and carrots. So if you really want to eat frugally and cheaply, as well as avoid expensive medical bills down the road, try buying a wide assortment of fresh food in as natural a state as possible, even if it doesn't always come with a coupon.

According to a 2004 study on fruit and vegetable costs published on the United States Department of Agriculture web site, watermelon is the least expensive fruit to buy, both on a per pound and a per serving basis, with an average price of only 32 cents per pound. Though inexpensive, watermelon is a nutrient dense food and a good source of vitamins A, B6, and C. In a poster I have from the Center for Science inthe Public Interest, watermelon was the highest rated fruit by the CSPI in terms of nutritional value. For more recipes than you ever thought were possible using watermelon, visit The National Watermelon Promotion Board web site at www.watermelon.org.

If you like to garden, you can eat healthy and save money on vegetables by planting your own organic vegetable or herb garden. Gardening also is great for fresh air, sunshine and exercise.

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