DETROIT – At Prince Valley Market on Michigan Avenue in Detroit, shelves are fully stocked and options are plentiful.
Customers say they are paying close attention to how much things cost everywhere.
“The prices are really high,” said Southfield’s Dora Hopkins.
Hopkins makes purchasing healthy foods a priority, but is careful to compare prices.
“It’s good for my health. Some things are just high, you know, so I try to find something that might be cheaper, ”Hopkins said.
This is a great approach, said Bethany Thayer, a registered nutritionist nutritionist at Henry Ford Health.
“I constantly hear people saying that healthy food is more expensive than unhealthy food, and I don’t buy it for a minute. I think there are all ways we can eat healthier and not spend a lot of money, ”Thayer said.
With food prices continuing to soar, many families face difficult decisions about what to buy. We asked Thayer to shop with us to share his tips and tricks for saving money on healthy foods.
He said saving starts before you leave the house.
“Planning ahead is the number one way to save money at the grocery store, and it’s also what people don’t do,” Thayer said. “They are more likely to do it on the fly.”
Thayer recommends planning meals for the week, checking what you already have at home, and then making a grocery list.
“Putting this on a grocery list will not only help you shop better at the store, but it won’t help you over-shop and waste money on food you won’t even eat.”
Two more useful tips:
“You heard it before, don’t come to the store hungry. You’ll start buying things you didn’t intend to buy, “Thayer said.” And number two, try to come alone. When you come with other people, they’re more likely to convince you to buy something else.
In the product aisle, focus on whole fruit versus pre-prepared options. Thayer quickly found a great example of the potential savings.
“The whole watermelon costs $ 7.99 against this half watermelon, which is $ 8.84 against this (small) container, which is $ 5.02.”
With fruits and vegetables, don’t assume prepackaged packaging is a better deal. Do the math!
We found that the individual halos were four for a dollar, which made them 25 cents each. The three-pound bag of halos cost $ 7.99, which seemed like a saving, but when we actually counted, it only contained 16 halos, worth 50 cents each!
That big difference even surprised our expert.
Thayer says you can also save money by purchasing non-organic products.
“Many people think they are doing their families good by buying some organic vegetables. The reality is nutritionally, they are the same, but organic costs a lot more, ”said Thayer.
Thayer says onions and potatoes are an inexpensive way to stretch meals all year round.
“A good way to add some flavor without using salt in some of your saltier foods and potatoes – a great source of things like vitamin C and potassium,” explained Thayer.
Moving on to the cereal aisle, we found that bagged raisin bran was a better deal than canned.
“We found that the grain sack is 27 ounces for $ 5 versus 25 ounces for six dollars. So save $ 1 and get a little more, ”said Thayer.
With oatmeal, even bigger was better. A jar and a box of ten individual bags were almost the same price, but the jar had three times the number of servings.
For grains in general, Thayer said the healthier whole grain option is often the same price as the less nutritious version. This was true of the pasta and bread we checked.
Cooking oils tend to be expensive. Thayer said canola oil and olive oil are both good sources of monounsaturated fat, but canola is a much cheaper option, especially for baking or stir-frying.
“In this case, that’s just over two dollars, versus just over six dollars for olive oil,” Thayer explained.
When it comes to meat, buying the balances is key. Thayer also recommends serving more “meatless meals” and watching portions.
“You only need about three ounces or the size of the palm of your hands,” Thayer said.
Frozen fish is another healthy cost-saving option.
“Tilapia tends to be a lower priced fish. And again, it’s a very lean source of protein, delicious in many different things. Salmon tends to be what people go to and you can sometimes get a really good price on salmon, especially when it’s frozen, ”Thayer said.
If you often throw away fresh produce that spoils before you can use it, go to the freezer.
“Buying it frozen is a good way to save some money because we can pour whatever we want and then put it back in the freezer for another time,” said Thayer.
When it comes to healthful drinks, Thayer recommends sticking with tap water and low-fat dairy products.
“One place to save money in the grocery store is not to spend it on drinks. You can spend a lot of money in the beverage department and not get a lot of nutrition in the process, ”said Thayer.
Finally, be careful with bulk purchases. People often think of saving money by buying healthy foods in bulk, but Thayer pointed out that you need to reckon with and make sure you’re actually able to consume that food before it goes bad.
While it takes a little more planning and time to save at the grocery store, Thayer said, it’s time well spent.
“People are starting to make decisions, and hopefully more informed decisions, about what they are buying.”
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