More than half of women say the cost of food keeps them from eating healthy, according to a recent poll from the publisher of Consumer Reports.
The Consumer Reports National Research Center asked more than 1,000 women about their eating habits in a phone survey in March 2011. The results were published in the June 2012 issue of ShopSmart magazine.
Almost all of the women surveyed said they are trying to make healthier choices. More than 70 percent look at nutrition labels and 53 percent say they have consciously been trying to buy healthier foods in the past year. Fifty-five percent say they have even tried to get their family members to eat healthier. But cost remained the biggest deterrent, with 57 percent of women citing it as the biggest barrier to nutritious grub.
But healthy eating doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, according to a new study from the Agriculture Department, it doesn’t, if you compare foods by weight and portion sizes. Previous research -- and numerous thrifty shoppers -- have compared food costs based on the price per calorie, a practice that makes high-calorie fast food seem like a bargain when compared to veggies and fruit, the AP reported. The problem with that method is that “Using price per calorie doesn't tell you how much food you're going to get or how full you are going to feel," Andrea Carlson, scientist at the USDA's Economic Research Service and an author of the study, told the AP.
Nutritionists and savvy shoppers have been making this point for years, highlighting strategies to make healthy eating even more budget-friendly. Some good rules of thumb: Buy fruit and veggies frozen or only what's in season. Buying in bulk can often cut down on cost, as can opting for a store-brand over a name brand. There are also a great number of ways to make homemade, healthier versions of your favorite store-bought eats -- including things like bread, granola bars and pasta sauce.
You've probably heard of most of those money-saving techniques -- and perhaps even tried a few yourself. But there are other, less well-known ways to get more healthy bite for your buck. Click through the slideshow below, then tell us your top tip for savvier healthy shopping in the comments.
If you buy produce that's been sliced, skinned, chopped or otherwise repackaged from its whole state, you're paying extra for washing, packaging and processing. While the convenience may encourage some people to make healthier choices, as Elizabeth Ward, M.S., R.D., told WebMD, if you're simply looking for a way to make the healthier choice more cost-efficient, slice your own peppers, chop your own onions, peel your own oranges and cut your own watermelon. Flickr photo by waferboard
We recently heard about a money- and time-saving iPhone and Android app called NetPlenish, which allows shoppers to scan barcodes of the items they buy regularly. Then the app scours the web for the best prices for the products in bulk from retailers like Target, Wal-Mart, Walgreens and more, and selects the best price. You simply authorize the purchase and your heart-healthy (and dirt-cheap) oats will arrive at your door. Flickr photo by Kai Hendry
Dried beans and lentils are some of the cheapest foods you can buy, and pack impressive health benefits, too. Swapping some of the meat in your diet for plant-based protein is not only gentler on your wallet, it can decrease risk of heart disease and some cancers, HuffPost reported in 2011, not to mention it's better for the environment, too. There are lots of tasty options, like black, pinto, garbanzo beans and countless others, many of which also provide you with a boost of fiber and disease-fighting antioxidants. Flickr photo by SaucyGlo
Half of Americans drink sugary drinks daily, according to a report released by the National Center for Health Statistics in 2011. The sodas, fruit drinks, energy drinks and sports beverages included in the report contribute to our expanding waistlines, and a host of other health problems, CNN reported. "A lot of times, people don't think of beverages as part of their daily total calories," dietitian and HuffPost blogger Marisa Moore told CNN. "When I think about soda drinking -- in general, it provides empty calories. It takes the place of more nutritious options." Instead of spending the calories and cash on those empty calories, switch to tap water. (If it's not safe to drink where you live, invest in a filtration system -- the upfront cost will even out over the long-term.) Cutting out just 140 calories a day, about the content of a can of soda, could help you lose more than 14 pounds in a year, according to Greatist. Miss the taste? Add some lemon or lime slices for calorie-free flavor! Flickr photo by Allie Holzman
You've heard not to go to the supermarket hungry to avoid blowing your diet. But splurging on in-store cravings can also hurt your budget. Instead, make a list ahead of time, planning out metabolism-boosting breakfasts, brown-bag lunches and healthy dinners. Then, stick to what's on your list when you hit the aisles. If you often find yourself straying from the plan, try a grocery delivery service, if one is available where you live, Heather Bauer, R.D., C.D.N., writes in "Bread Is the Devil," to ensure you have complete control. Flickr photo by greenfaerietree
In exchange for lifting boxes or taking some shifts at the cash register, you'll have access to quality food -- often in bulk -- for lower prices. The experience might not be as luxurious as shopping at your normal grocery story, iVillage points out, but the locally-grown and organic produce and sustainably-farmed fish, all for a prettier price. Flickr photo by glenngould
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