By now, you’ve probably gotten an earful of healthy eating advice. So you already know that loading your plate with fresh produce, whole grains, and lean protein is best for you and baby.
The problem is that this nutritious diet can be tough on your wallet. But that doesn’t mean that you have to go broke at the supermarket. With smart shopping strategies and a little preparation, eating right doesn’t have to cost a cent extra, says Paola Mora, R.D., a dietitian who works in the division of Maternal Fetal Medicine at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York.
Ready to slash your grocery bill? Put the following expert tips into action.
1. Eat in season
Talk about a win-win: Produce at its peak is packed with flavor, and it’s also a better bargain at the checkout. “Companies pay extra to ship in out-of-season fruits and vegetables, which trickles down to their price tag,” says chef Greg Silverman, the senior manager of education outreach at Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters, a national nonprofit organization.
Silverman advises being flexible in the kitchen. If a recipe calls for, say, expensive out-of-season fresh green beans, swap in something that’s farm fresh, such as broccoli or cauliflower. Don’t want to change things up? Consider frozen or canned produce: Because they’re preserved at their peak, they generally contain as many nutrients as fresh, say researchers at the University of California at Davis.
2. Buy whole
When you’re crunched for time, it doesn’t get much easier than cooking up a chicken cutlet. But you pay for that convenience, says Mora. “If you spend a few minutes removing the skin and cutting up a whole chicken, you’ll save around $6.”
To stretch that dollar even more, save the remnants after you’re through carving. Simmer them with water, onion, garlic, and spices for a flavorful chicken stock you can use in soups and sauces.
3. Go generic
Store-brand staples, such as cereal and pasta sauce, cost about 25 percent less than the brand-name varieties. But their quality may be the same: In a blind test published in Consumer Reports magazine, people thought generic products tasted just as good as their pricier counterparts 66 percent of the time.
4. Don’t always buy into a sale
That “50 percent off” sign doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you’re going to save big. To make sure that you’re getting the best deal, check out the unit price—or cost per ounce—listed on the shelf, recommends Silverman. You may discover that the loose-leaf lettuce is still cheaper than that prewashed package on special.
But if the sale is worth it, go ahead and stock up, adds Silverman. Buy extra non-perishable items, like brown rice or canned beans. You can also cooking and freeze produce, such as an extra batch of tomato sauce.