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Nutrition on a budget

Some helpful tips

Karen Miller | 2/2/2017, 9:19 a.m.
Some helpful tips to keep your spending down and your nutrition up.
U.S. Department of Agriculture

Buy in season

Although many fruits and vegetables are available all year round, that does not necessarily mean they are in season. When produce cannot be grown locally, it is imported from elsewhere or grown in heated greenhouses. Yet, according to a report by the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, in addition to being more expensive, the out-of-season produce is less nutritious. Nutritional content of fruits and vegetables decreases from the moment of harvest. The long trip from overseas or across the country takes its toll.

To preserve your purse, buy fruits when they are abundant locally. Or purchase them in season and freeze to enjoy all year round. Below are examples of produce by season.

Chart

Produce by season

Summer Fall Winter Spring Year-round
Blueberries

Acorn squash

Collard greens

Asparagus

Apples

Cantaloupe

Broccoli

Kale

Broccoli

Bananas

Cherries

Brussels sprouts

Oranges

Collard greens

Bell pepper

Corn

Cranberries

Sweet Potatoes

Peas

Cabbage

Peaches

Pear

Tangerines

Radishes

Carrots

Strawberries

Pomegranates

Turnips

Red leaf lettuce

Onions

Watermelon

Pumpkin

Winter squash

Spinach

Potatoes

For a more complete list visit: http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/what-fruits-and-vegetables-are-in-season and https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/nutrition-through-seasons/seasonal-produce.

Tips for being a savvy shopper

  • Make a grocery list … and stick to it.
  • Don’t shop when you’re hungry. Unhealthy snacks are too enticing.
  • Compare nutrition facts labels for healthier choices without spending more.
  • Use coupons for foods that you typically consume.
  • Read the sales flyer and purchase store specials.
  • Ask for rain checks.
  • Purchase store brand products.
  • Join your store’s loyalty program.
  • Grab from the back. Fresher dairy and meat products are typically placed behind older products.
  • Purchase fruits and veggies in season.
  • Stock up on staple foods, such as rice, when on sale.
  • Buy small amounts of perishable foods.
  • Don’t look left or right at the checkout counter. Candy is on one side and magazines on the other, neither of which serves your diet or budget.

The unit price is often determined for you. The large size yogurt costs $2.15 a pound versus $3.18 a pound for the smaller size.

The unit price is often determined for you. The large size yogurt costs $2.15 a pound versus $3.18 a pound for the smaller size.

Unit pricing

Unit price is the cost per unit, such as per pound, per ounce or per liter. Determining the unit price enables consumers to determine the best price for an item.

As an example, a six-ounce container of yogurt is $1.19, or $.198 an ounce. A 32-ounce container of the same product costs $4.29, or $.134 an ounce. At first glance, this difference of $.06 is not enough to make a dent in one’s pocket or change one’s buying habit. However, if you are a fan of yogurt and consume several containers a week, those cents begin to add up.

The larger size contains 5.33 times as much as the individual size. That means you would spend $5.95 to approximate the equivalence of the quart container.

($1.19 x 5 = $5.95)

You would save $1.66 by purchasing the larger size.

($5.95 - $4.29 = $1.66)

In other situations the math is done for you. The price per pound of chicken is clearly listed. For a national brand chicken sold in several stores in New England, the boneless, skinless chicken breast is $6.19 a pound. Chicken thighs are $3.49 a pound, while a whole chicken is $1.89 a pound.

A general rule of thumb is that meats that are cut, skinless and boneless are more expensive. It’s more economically sound to purchase a whole chicken and cut it up and freeze what you don’t immediately consume.