Buy From the Bulk SectionLots of healthy staples are sold in bulk, including oats, wild rice, quinoa, nuts, beans, lentils, and dried fruit. Buying these foods "loose" slashes costs, because savings on packaging are passed onto consumers. Plus, the bulk section is efficient because you can purchase exactly the amount you need. The other day I bought bulk pistachios for $3 less per pound than a pre-packaged branded version, and I've saved up to 50 percent on the same quantity of whole grains compared to packaged products.
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Join the DIY Movement
I'm a huge make-it-yourself advocate, since from-scratch versions of tons of foods—from salad dressing to energy bars—can be much healthier and more affordable than buying them pre-made. If you regularly eat bread, investing in a bread maker can be a great way to cut costs long-term. A machine will generally allow you to make three loaves of bread from a 2-pound bag of whole grain flour for about $1.79, compared to buying just one loaf for almost $4. Plus you can make it all natural, with no preservatives or unwanted additives, and freeze what you don't need right away to prevent waste.
Frequent Your Local Farmer's MarketIn-season, locally grown produce is affordable because it's abundant. It also happens to be at its peak, both for nutrients and flavor, so take advantage when you can. If you happen to buy more than you need, freeze what you can't use before it spoils, or split your bounty with a friend or neighbor and share the cost.
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Stock Your FreezerFresh cherry season peaks in the summer, but I enjoy these gems throughout the remainder of the year in frozen form, as I do many other fruits and veggies. When I walk the grocery aisles with my clients most are surprised to learn that frozen produce is just as nutritious as the fresh stuff, because freezing locks in nutrients. You can whip frozen fruit into smoothies, heat it up in a saucepan with spices as a topping for cooked oats, or thaw in the fridge to eat cold. Frozen veggies are just as versatile. Quickly steam and season them for an easy side dish, saut? in veggie broth or olive oil, pop in the oven to roast (baby Brussels sprouts are my favorite for this!), or add to recipes like stir frys and soups. Recently, my local market was selling bags of frozen veggies for $1 a pop. Needless to say I took advantage, and while I love fresh, frozen is a great way to expand my everyday options without spending an arm and a leg.
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Save in Other AreasBuying non-food items like laundry detergent at discount stores and price clubs helps me carve out more room in my budget for healthy foods. Once I realized I could purchase eco-friendly brands at places like Costco, and even the dollar store (which in my neighborhood is right next door to Whole Foods) I stopped paying full price for them alongside my groceries. Yes, it's an extra stop, but it's totally worth the lack of guilt when I want to splurge on a primo bottle of balsamic vinegar or a jar of cashew butter—money much better spent in my book.
Cynthia Sass is a nutritionist and registered dietitian with master's degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she's Health's contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. Her latest New York Times best seller is S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches. Connect with Cynthia on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
This article originally appeared on Health.com.
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