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Money-Saving Mama: Eating better isn't expensive

Posted: July 2, 2013 - 11:32am

Many people have said they want to eat better and be healthier but cannot afford it. There are so many reasons why people just can’t seem to do this: “I don’t have time”, “they don’t give coupons for healthy food, only junk food”, or “I or my kids just don’t like the taste.” The good news is that there are ways to bust these myths and get you on the road to agood healthy lifestyle.

Think of it as a lifestyle, not as something to do right now or a diet. You want to make this a daily habit that doesn’t change. Second, you have to figure out what you do like by trying it. You might not like green beans, but how many times have you tried them? You have to try things many times before you develop a taste for it. For instance, you may not like plain, old green beans but have you tried them French cut? This makes them smaller, thinner and not as strong when you taste them. Have you tried making them with red potatoes to have a contrast of tastes? There are many ways to prepare any one item that will make it easier for you to like that particular food. If you just don’t like it and can’t get past the taste, try looking for a recipe that uses the item as a “secret ingredient.”

Cooking healthful foods doesn’t take a lot of time. Making a squash casserole takes approximately 30 minutes to cook, cooking green beans takes 20 minutes or less, and cutting up fruit takes minutes. If you like, prepare your fruit to eat at a moment’s notice by cutting it up when you bring it home. Store it in the refrigerator where you will see it, even if that means it is not in the vegetable drawer. If you don’t see it, you won’t eat it. This truly is something that you have to just change your outlook on. It doesn’t take any more time to prepare a meal with fruits and vegetables and healthier foods than it does to prepare processed foods.

Realizing that some of you have to go through the drive-thru restaurants because of time constraints, vacations or whatever, ordering a salad is an easy option. If you want more choices and if you do use the drive-thru a lot, research the menu online and print it out ahead of time so that you have the choices of the healthiest meals for you. It saves time and helps in your eating plan. Create a file folder with all of your menus for easy access and keep it with you.

Now for the last and what seems to be hardest thing for a couponer, like myself, “how do you save money at the grocery store when there just are not coupons for fruits, vegetables and healthful foods?” There are some great tricks to this I will share. First, check the store for coupons. Recently, Kroger sent out a mailer with coupons for all sorts of items from the produce department and the organic and natural meat department. The online coupons at times have coupons for healthy items as well. Publix and Bi-Lo are the same way in their online and store coupons. This should be your first place to stop. Then, comb through coupons. There are times when there are coupons in the Sunday paper and online through places such as coupons.com for organic foods, fruits such as strawberries and salads, and more. If you check the Web sites and Facebook pages of your favorite organic and fruit and vegetable companies, they will, from time to time, have coupons for their products.

Heading to the farm stands is a great way to save money. I went to a local strawberry farm looking for the last of the strawberries and found a deal on some great sweet onions. They were fresh dug (and cleaned), and were $0.75 a pound, but if you bought five pounds, it dropped to $0.50 a pound. For a little over $2.50, I came away with a lot of onions to use for cooking, baking and canning onion relish. Buying what is in season, which is a lot at this time of year, and canning or freezing excess is a great way to save when the season has ended and you are back to buying what is at the grocery store with sometimes inflated prices.

Freezing your items is easy and requires little skill. You need a pot to blanch your food (blanching is a short process where you boil the vegetables in the water for a determined amount of time, of which you can Google what time for each item), a pot with ice water to quickly cool down the food after blanching and some freezer bags labeled with the item and date. It is a very easy process and gives you a good amount of food for a later date.

If you decide you want to can items, there are a few more items and processes that you need to consider, but it is well worth the effort.

As you can tell, this time of year you can save a lot on the healthy foods, and possibly even stock up some of it for a later date and save money then, too.

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