Staying healthy and saving money need not be mutually exclusive. I recently went on a grocery ride with Cooking Light Contributing Editor and host of Yahoo's Blue Ribbon Hunter Allison Fishman for her expert advice on how to make the best choices at the grocery store, while sticking to a frugal budget. Follow these tips and save up to 50% on certain items. Check it out:
In the condiment aisle, seek healthy fats. You hear so much about olive oil but here's one of Fishman's secret: Canola oil offers all the same amazing heart-healthy benefits. It has the lowest saturated fat, but it's at least four times cheaper than olive oil.
"The healthiest food choices are typically on the perimeter of the store so make produce your very first stop for healthy foods," says Fishman. The first big way to save in this category is to stick with seasonal produce. In the winter, that includes leafy greens, celery, parsnips and potatoes. Stick with these in-season goodies and you'll pay a whole dollar less per pound. Second, skip the pre-washed, pre-cut veggies; they're convenient, but can easily cost up to three times more.
Prior to picking your cuts of meat, think ahead about how you're going to prepare your meal in order to save, advises Fishman. "For beef, braising, stewing, slow-roasting, and smoking will transform tough, inexpensive cuts of meat into extremely tender and delicious meals," she says. She suggests choosing bottom round, tri-tip, brisket or shoulder roasts, which are all about $5 per pound or less. Premium cuts, meantime, can cost double or more. Also, look for new meat labels coming out later this spring, which will make lower-fat cuts more obvious.
The fish counter is one of the best places to buy proteins because fresh fish is an incredibly healthy food choice. One caveat: it can be expensive. To save, Fishman suggests buying whole fish. "Pound for pound you'll pay at least twice as much for filets as you will for whole fish," she says. Learn to filet a fish yourself and you'll save. Plus you'll have the head, tails, and bones to create a delicious fish stock for soups and stews later on.
Frozen fish filets are also another way to save. The large packs of individually wrapped filets are about $2 less than fresh fish. If this is the only way you can afford seafood - go for it, she says.
While you're in the frozen aisles, pick up out-of-season fruits and vegetables. "Techniques in flash-freezing have greatly improved the taste and texture of frozen fruits and veggies, so we can enjoy all our favorites even out of season," says Fishman.
Cookies, Crackers and Cereal
The key to saving in these aisles is label literacy, says Fishman. Stay away from foods high in sugar, sodium and saturated fat. "These are the aisles where you have to be diligent. Sugar hides in cereal, sodium in crackers, and saturated fat in cookies," she says. To stay healthy always be on the look out for whole grains. The best way to ensure you're getting whole grains is to read the ingredient list and if the first ingredient is a whole grain, you're in good shape. "At Cooking Light we recommend you eat 48 grams of whole grains per day," she says.