Day's worth of healthy(ish) food cost me less than $8

Yesterday, I fed myself for an entire day on less than $8. I didn’t mean to do it, it just happened. Here is what I ate:

Bowl of cereal with milk $ .60
Coffee $ .25
Banana $ .20
Soup $2.65
Energy bar $1.00
Rice, peas, and ham
$2.80 Pretzels $0.25

I also drank water, but I am not going to get that specific; the point is that I ate pretty well for very little money. I think it is a common misperception that it is just too expensive to eat right. According to the Organic Trade Association, more than 65 percent who do not eat organic foods cite price as a major factor in their decision.

It is true that health-related foods can cost several times more than conventional foods. However, cutting back on food expenses doesn’t have to mean cutting back on nutrition. When heading out to shop for healthful foods, remember to:

Shop around. Health food stores aren’t the only places that sell healthy food—some grocery clubs sell the same items in bulk at a discounted price. Also consider generics; the store brand is often a name brand with a store label. You might also consider joining a member-owned food co-operative, where you trade volunteer time for big savings. For a list of co-ops in your area, visit www.greenpeople.org.

Make sure it’s worth it. While the label “all natural” leads many people to believe that the products are healthy, you still need to watch for dietary pitfalls. For example, vegetable chips fried in oil may be just as high in saturated fat and sodium as regular potato chips, but they may cost you twice as much.

Hydrate.  According to iVillage.com, if you switch your favorite drink from soda and sugary juice to water, you will pump up your metabolism and boost your bank account. If you used to spend $2 a day on soda, you'll save $730 a year.

Finally, if you do opt for a frozen meal (according to the American Frozen Food Institute, frozen entrees are now among the top 10 most frequently served in-home suppers), choose carefully; dinner for adults should include at least one cup of cooked vegetables.

For more tips on smart shopping and healthy eating, visit the online home of the Supermarket Guru. If you know other ways to keep you and your wallet happy, please share your secrets through the comments section.

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.

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