This post was written based on a recent appearance by Adrianne Kartholl, RDN, clinical dietitian, and Amanda Langan, RDN, clinical dietitian, Parkview Health, on the television program PBS HealthLine.
With grocery prices still rising, many are wondering how to get the most for their money while shopping for nutritious whole foods. For help navigating the grocery aisles, we turn to two Parkview dietitians on a slew of topics, including the rising cost of groceries, how to stretch your dollar and the best ways to eat healthy while on a budget.
In the past, eating healthy has been considered more expensive, but does that notion still hold true today?
We’re seeing a shift in the groceries individuals and families purchase. They are leaving the aisles and choosing more whole foods on the store’s perimeter because it’s proving more cost-effective. For example, people are opting for the block instead of buying a bag of shredded cheese because it’s cheaper. Then they slice, shred or cut it down themselves. To further combat higher grocery prices, many are moving toward more food prep and meal planning methods like freezing and canning to capitalize on cost savings when and where they can.
What strategies can families employ to stretch their dollars at the grocery store?
The best thing anyone can do is plan ahead. A little preparation and forethought can help save you time and money at the grocery store. It’s also important to make a list and stick to it, choosing only the meals you know your family will enjoy and eat. Doing this will ensure you stay on budget and reduce food waste.
What healthy and affordable whole foods should everyone have on their list?
One of my personal favorites is eggs. They are delicious and nutrient-dense, serving as an excellent source of protein, B vitamins and choline, as well as water- and fat-soluble vitamins. They’re also extremely versatile. You can eat eggs any time of the day, and they go well with a variety of foods. Brown rice is also a great option. It provides you with a ton of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Plus, it’s a good source of healthy carbohydrates, and you can pair it with almost anything.
Are freezer meals a nutritious weeknight option?
Those convenience meals or frozen dinners are so enticing, especially after a long day. They are so easy – come home, pop it in the oven and enjoy. But if you flip the box over and check the nutrition label, in most cases you’ll notice a substantial amount of fat or added salt. In moderation, that’s not a problem, but if you’re eating that every night or multiple times a week, that extra sodium and fat can build up and affect your health, causing high blood pressure and cholesterol. We recommend batch cooking, instead.
Are meal-kit and food delivery services a good idea?
You should choose those subscription meal-kit services based on your individual needs to see if it’s the best choice for you and your family. If it does interest you, make sure you’re choosing meals containing key nutrients like vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and a good source of protein while limiting added sodium and saturated fats. Many of these companies have their nutrition information published on their website, and I always encourage you to do your research so you can make an informed decision.
Is canned produce part of a healthy diet?
Canned vegetables can be just as nutritious as fresh and frozen, plus they’re easy, convenient, shelf-stable and budget-friendly. But it’s necessary to check the label for added salt or seasonings. Ideally, you want to stick with the “no salt added” varieties, but if that’s not an option, you can always place the salted version in a strainer and rinse with water to reduce the sodium.
What other tips can you give families heading to the store?
Don’t forget to check your grocery store apps! Before heading out for your monthly haul, scan you’re app to see what’s on sale and if any additional last-minute coupons are waiting for you. I also recommend utilizing the mailer that comes out each week. You can plan your meals around the sale items (fresh cuts of meat and seasonal fruits and vegetables) while snagging a few extra coupons because sometimes they differ from those online. And while it might seem cumbersome to take the time to scope things out in advance (virtually and in-store), you will reap the benefits. These little extras will save you money and valuable time at checkout while earning you reward points and deals for your next shopping trip.