Healthy Eating on a Budget

Photo by unionhouse, Jennifer Soos & Salvatore Brancifort

It's no secret that eating healthy can be a burden on the budget. While it may be tempting to turn to ramen noodles in tough times, you don't have to forgo nutrition if you learn how to shop and eat smart. With the right dollar-stretching strategies, a hungry runner can spend less while stocking her cart with healthy foods.

Here's how to reduce the pain at checkout while eating like a champion.

Eggs All Day

At less than 20 cents a pop, nutrient-packed eggs aren't just for breakfast. Lachael Prouty, RD, a sports dietitian based in San Francisco, says, "Keep hard-boiled eggs in the refrigerator for a protein-packed snack." Baked omelets or frittatas also make excellent family-friendly meals.

Bulk Bins

Without the added cost of packaging and advertising, bulk bins remain one of the best places to save big on whole grains, legumes, nuts, oats, dried fruit and baking supplies. Plus, you can purchase just what you need for a recipe without paying for the excess.

Meatless Mondays

Meat always takes a big bite out of the food budget, so commit to eating at least one meat-free meal a week. Use lentils, beans or tofu as your inexpensive base. Research shows that cutting back on meat intake can boost your health—as well as Mother Earth's.

Neglected Cuts

When you are at the meat counter, turn to less popular items to save money. Chicken thighs will always be cheaper per pound than America's favorite, chicken breasts. Try cooking up overlooked items, such as whole chicken, hanger steak and whole fish.

Frozen Fun

"Off-season frozen fruits and veggies give you a big nutrient bang for your buck," says Prouty. "Look for packages that have the 'USDA: U.S. Fancy' shield, which indicates that the produce is the best size, shape and color."

Store Brand Savings

Buying store brands can cut your grocery bills by an average of 30 percent according to Prouty. "If you're reluctant to try a store-brand product, remember most grocery stores offer a money-back guarantee."

Ethnic Markets

Be it Chinese or Mexican, ethnic markets are a great place to find items such as spices and fresh produce at bargain-basement prices.

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