Wednesday, February 23, 2011

7 Healthy, Cheap Eats


Got $36.32 to spend on food per person per day? We didn't think so. But that's what researchers recently figured you'd have to spend to eat really, really healthfully. No way. At least not if you put these budget-friendly strategies to work when you hit the grocery store:

Never shop hungry. It's not a myth. Hunger activates the part of your brain that responds like Pavlov's dog to tempting pictures and descriptions of food. That's why a stroll down the cookie aisle lands all those sweets in your cart when you shop just before dinner!

Plunk down cold, hard cash, not plastic. You'll make 30% fewer unhealthful impulse buys at the grocery store. (Look! MoonPies!) Ah, the power of green stuff -- the kind you keep in your wallet!

Think local and seasonal. You can save big-time bucks buying squash in winter and cherries in summer (instead of vice versa), especially if you buy locally grown produce. Seasonal isn't possible everywhere, but get just-picked fruits and veggies whenever you can; they pack a big flavor bonus.

Be choosy about organics. Buying organic versions of these 12 fruits and veggies (the famous "dirty dozen") is worth it because they practically inhale pesticides: peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, grapes, spinach, lettuce, and potatoes. But save your organic money on these, which just aren't prone to pesticide residues: tomatoes (new entries), avocados, watermelons, sweet corn, onions, mangoes, pineapple, peas, asparagus, kiwi, cabbage, and grapefruit.

Snap up bargain frozen foods. Save some change -- and avoid dreaded fruit-and-veggie rot in the fridge -- by buying frozen green beans, corn, peas, asparagus, raspberries, collard greens, squash, and more when they're on sale. Flash-frozen produce is more nutritious than wilted fresh, and it's usually more healthful than canned, which is often loaded with sodium (veggies and beans) or sugary syrup (fruit).

Get secret wild salmon. Can't swing $30 a pound for the first run of wild Pacific salmon? Wheel your cart to the canned-fish aisle -- salmon packed in tins and pouches is usually the wild type!

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