Healthy Kids    

Eat your veggies or eat nothing!

Shopping for groceries on a budget

Think healthy eating has to be expensive? Think again. Comparing cost per nutrients when searching for nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, whole grains and milk can not only save you money, but can affect your health in the long run. 

“We’re all watching our budgets these days,” says Michelle Dudash, registered dietitian, mom and author of the upcoming book titled, “Clean Eating for Busy Families.” But, says Dudash, “there are important health and nutrition trade-offs that we need to consider. The truth is Americans need a crash course in ‘nutrition economics.’”

Whether it’s picking the most nutrient-rich foods or finding ways to keep the costs down within important food groups like fruits, vegetables and milk, she also emphasizes that nutrition economics doesn’t mean making everything from scratch — it means doing a little advance work to understand exactly what you’re buying.

“Saving money at the grocery store can be stressful. I save money by using a lot of coupons,” says Allison Turner, mother of four from Woodbourne. “Another great tip is to stock-pile and only buy items when they’re on sale.”

To help navigate the supermarket, Michelle shares these tips to help you make the most of your grocery cart.

Local farmers know the true value of food... do you? 

The do’s and don’ts of nutrition economics

 DO: Learn to look at costs per nutrient. Healthy foods can sometimes appear to be higher in cost, but when you look at the nutrients these foods provide, they often are a good value. Check your labels and ask yourself: “Is the food I’m selecting packed with nutrients to keep my family fueled?” Be sure to look at the percent daily value for nutrients you need like calcium, potassium and vitamin D.

DO: Think about your drink. Drinks are often an overlooked part of your food budget, and can not only break the bank; they can also lack the nutrition you need, especially at breakfast. Take a look at your beverage closely and choose the options that offer the most nutrients for a healthy start.

DO: Maximize the seasons. Buy fresh fruits and vegetables only when in season and learn to maximize your freezer. By utilizing frozen produce in the off season, you still get the same nutrients at a much lower cost. “I always can and freeze when there is abundance,” says Kate McCoy, mother of one from Rosendale. “Canning and freezing produce saves my family so much money!”

DO: Visit the farmers’ market. Buying fresh produce at the supermarket can kill anyone’s budget since stores rarely offer coupons or discounts on produce. Instead, check out your local farmers’ market for fresh, seasonal produce. “You can buy cheap veggies at the farmers’ market,” says Renee Goldman, mother of one from Washingtonville. “It’s fresh and local, which is even better. You just have to know which farmers’ markets are cheap.”

Healthy and delicious snack ideas!

DON’T: Spend on substitutes. Expensive alternatives are usually just that — expensive, and they often don’t deliver the value of the real thing. For example, look for the best value in the dairy aisle — milk. Unlike some of the other alternatives, you always know what you're getting when you grab a glass of milk: nine essential nutrients for just a quarter a glass.

DON’T: Be a spontaneous meal planner. Of course there’s room for fun when it comes to meals, but the more you plan, the more you’ll maximize your budget.

“I try to plan my meals for the week, this way I know exactly what I’m getting when I enter the store,” says Mari Martinez, mother of one from Wappingers Falls.

We admit to giving in to the last-minute meal, but planning ahead can help you avoid costly quick stops and too many fresh veggies tossed in the trash.

DON’T: Cave to cravings. It’s no secret that grocery stores love to tempt us with display after display of cookies, chips and soda. A great trick to ward off impulse buys is to have a nutritious snack before entering the store. This way you will not be tempted to buy based on your appetite. “I carry a basket rather than pushing a cart,” says MJ Goff, mother of two from Monroe. “What fits in the basket is what I buy.” This method keeps her from buying too much junk food.

DON’T: Bring the kids. “Leave the kids at home while you shop for groceries,” says Jennifer Puleo, mother of two from New Paltz. Moms are always looking for some alone time, no matter where that alone time may be.

When you head out to stock up on groceries, ask your spouse or a babysitter to stay at home with the children. This will cut down on those last minute impulse candy buys at the check-out counter.