Smarter food shopping

Good nutrition doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Some of the healthiest foods at grocery stores also are some of the least costly.

“You don’t have to spend a lot of money to supply your refrigerator and pantry with the healthiest foods for regular meals, so you will rely less on takeout and unhealthy snacks,” says Elisabeth Moore, a registered dietitian with Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “If healthy food is more available and ready to eat, you will eat more of it.”

Thoughts about food

Healthy shopping comes down to following some basic strategies. Here are Moore’s tips for choosing the best foods at the lowest prices.

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Make a plan. Write down what you need, from the basics to ingredients for specific meals. Place sticky notes on your fridge and write down items you need throughout the week so you don’t have to come up with a complete list all at once. Another option: take photos of the inside of your fridge and pantry with your phone to use as a visual reference when you’re at the grocery store.

Shop on the same day each week. A simple routine eliminates the need for extra trips to the store, which may tempt you to buy food that’s not on your list. “If life gets in the way and you need to change this up, still make sure you stick with a list and a plan,” says Moore.

Work around the perimeter. This is where you’ll often find the healthiest, least processed options, like fresh produce, dairy, and frozen foods. However, it depends on the store’s setup. “For the inner aisles, stick with those stocked with canned vegetables and whole grains,” she says.

Become a comparison shopper. Whether you’re most concerned about sodium, fiber, sugar, or calories, reading and comparing nutrition labels can help you make better decisions. “If you’re trying to manage your weight, pay particular attention to calories and the serving size listed,” says Moore.

Buy in bulk. Shelf-stable items like grains, rice, nuts, and dried beans are cheaper in bulk or large containers. For instance, a pound of rice may cost $1.60, but a 5-pound bag might cost $4, which breaks down to 80 cents per pound.

Buy generic or store-brands. These are cheaper in part because less money is spent on advertising and creating attractive packaging for them.

Stock up on staplesThe following are high in nutrition, low in cost, and quite versatile. Keep these on hand at all times.Canned tomatoesCanned beansCanned tunaLentilsWhole grains (brown rice, quinoa)OatsNut butter (peanut, almond)PotatoesPopcorn (no butter, no or low salt)Frozen berriesEggs

Don’t throw away money

Another way people waste money is by not properly caring for fresh fruits and vegetables. “So often we leave them in the refrigerator, forgotten, and then they get tossed into the trash — along with the money you spent,” says Moore. Here is how to keep these foods around longer.

Know your fruits. Some fruits continue to ripen with time (called climacteric) while others do not ripen after harvesting (called non-climacteric).

Climacteric fruits include apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, cantaloupe, mangoes, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, and tomatoes. “Store these on your counter at room temperature until they reach the desired ripeness, or refrigerate them if not used right away,” says Moore. Non-climacteric fruits include bell peppers, berries, cherries, citrus (oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit), cucumber, eggplant, grapes, and watermelon. “You can refrigerate them immediately to keep them fresh,” says Moore.

Prep your veggies. Prepare vegetables as soon as you purchase them. Wash, chop, and dry them. Then store them in labeled containers in clear view. Immediately stuffing them into the produce bins of your refrigerator increases their risk of being forgotten.

Consider frozen over fresh. For regular staples, opt for frozen versions, which are on par nutrition-wise with their fresh counterparts, says Moore. “However, avoid brands with added sauces, creams, or flavorings.” Much frozen produce is good for months up to a year. Label each package with the date it was stored.

In terms of organic produce, Moore says it’s a personal preference. “Nutrition experts will give you different answers on the potential health benefits of organic foods,” she says. “If they are not affordable, it’s always better to eat non-organic varieties than none at all.”

Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren

Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren

Daniel 12:3
“Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.”
Micah 4:4
“But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken.”
Zephaniah 3:17
“The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
Malachi 3:16
“Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name.”
Matthew 25:21
“His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.

Colossians 1:27
“To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
1 Thessalonians 5:8
“But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.”
Titus 1:2
“In hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.”

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