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Healthy eating on a budget

» Dried Beans: Price: $1.33 per pound*

» Eggs: Price: $1.81 per dozen*

» Milk: Price: $3.40 per gallon*

» Canned tuna fish: Price: About $1 per can**

» Brown Rice: Price: $1.69 per pound**

» Frozen vegetables: Price: varies

Shopping strategies

Stocking your cart with low-priced healthy staples is a great way to trim your grocery bill. Keep these tips in mind, too:

  • Stick to the perimeter of the store for the bulk of your purchases. That’s where the least-processed foods typically are found.
  • Look for seasonal produce. Prices tend to be lowest during peak harvest times. Visit a farmers market for some of the best deals.
  • Enroll in promotional savings programs offered by grocery stores.
  • Clip coupons. Some stores even double or triple their value.
  • Plan your meals ahead of time. Then make a list and stick to it. You’ll spend less when you avoid impulse buys.
  • Buy in bulk, when possible. You almost always pay extra for packaging and convenience, especially for single servings. You can divide items into smaller portions at home.

We all want to stretch our grocery dollars. While processed foods may seem attractive, especially if they’re marked down at your local supermarket, a balanced diet is essential to your health. And a number of nutritious options are available for those who want to dine on a dime. If you’re looking to stock your kitchen with healthful foods without breaking your budget, put these items on your shopping list.

Dried Beans: Price: $1.33 per pound*

Beans have been a staple worldwide for thousands of years and with good reason. They’re a great source of protein, dietary fiber, B vitamins, iron and other vitamins and minerals. And they’re extremely versatile, flavorful and filling. At less than $1.50 per pound, they pack a lot of nutritious bang for your buck. They also store easily and for long periods of time. Experiment with different varieties—black, red or pinto beans; garbanzos; and more. Serve them as main dishes or sides, add them to salads or even puree them for dips or spreads.

Eggs: Price: $1.81 per dozen*

A single egg provides a full 10 percent of your daily protein needs, plus vitamins A, D and B-12, among other nutrients—all for less than 15 cents per egg! Egg yolks get a bad rap for their fat and cholesterol content, but most people can eat whole eggs in moderation without worry. If cholesterol is a concern, try eating egg whites—which are nearly fat free—or cholesterol-free egg substitutes.

Milk: Price: $3.40 per gallon*

When it comes to packing a nutritional punch, it’s hard to beat milk. Each serving provides vital nutrients, such as calcium, potassium, vitamin D and protein. At $3.40 per gallon, an 8-ounce glass costs less than a quarter. Milk is especially beneficial for bone health, an increasing concern with age. Look for low-fat or fat-free varieties, especially if you’re watching your weight or cholesterol.

Canned tuna fish: Price: About $1 per can**

Canned tuna fish is not only a good source of protein but it also boasts vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. Research has shown that omega-3s are important for heart health and may decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease. Choose light tuna that’s packed in water instead of oil. Use it as you would any other lean meat—on sandwiches, in casseroles, scrambled into omelets, tossed in salads or on its own.

Brown Rice: Price: $1.69 per pound**

While brown rice is slightly more expensive than white rice, it’s a much greater value when you consider what’s removed in the refining process to convert it to white rice. The milling process eliminates dietary fiber, iron and many B vitamins. A lot of people find brown rice and other whole grains more flavorful and filling, too. Use it as you would white rice—paired with beans as a main dish, with stir-fry vegetables or lightly seasoned as a side dish.

Frozen vegetables: Price: varies

Frozen vegetables are often less expensive than their fresh counterparts, and they last longer, too. You can freeze them for up to three months. They’re also easy to prepare on your stovetop or in your microwave. In some cases, frozen veggies may even be more nutritious than fresh ones because they’re picked at peak harvest and frozen right away, whereas fresh produce may lose certain nutrients over time.

© 2014 Dowden Health Media