Loading up on nutritious food doesn't have to break the bank. Use these tips to fill your stomach and your grocery cart with good-for-you goodies without emptying your wallet.
- Make your own snack packs. Those 100-calorie bags of snack foods may make portion control easier, but the practice comes with a price. Researchers at Arizona State University and the University of Kentucky found that the packs can cost up to 3 times more than larger versions of the same food. "Whenever you have more packaging, you usually have a higher price tag to go along with it," explains Phil Lempert, food marketing expert and founder of supermarketguru.com. Save cash and stay slim by purchasing regular bags or boxes of snack foods and dividing them into individual portions yourself. Money saved: up to $3.79 on Goldfish; up to $6.25 on Cheez-Its
- Focus on frozen foods. Groceries from the freezer can be cheaper and more nutritious. Lampert says that in mid-winter you can easily pay $5 for half a pint of "fresh" blueberries because they've likely flown to you from over 3,000 miles away, and have probably been picked before they were ripe. "In the frozen food section, you can get six ounces for $2.50-$3.00 and they'll taste better because they were picked and packed when they were ripe," he explains. Money saved: about $2.
- Skip the sauce. Pasta is a popular cheap dish, but jarred tomato sauce can cost $6 – $10 and often contains added sugar or high fructose corn syrup and preservatives, says Lempert. Instead, whip up your own version in the time it takes to heat up the jarred stuff. Simply combine canned crushed tomatoes (about $1.50 a pop), a tablespoon of olive oil and spices like oregano in a pot and heat. Money saved: $4.50 – $8.50.