Healthy Eating on a Budget (NBC33 VIDEO)

By Eric DeFreeuw

May 20, 2013 Updated May 20, 2013 at 8:31 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.nbc33.com) – Plenty of us say we are going to eat healthier, more natural foods but once it comes down to it, it often seems too expensive. The good news is there are ways to save money while still buying fresh, even organic food.

Judy Tillapaugh, a nutritionist, agrees saying "healthy eating does not have to be expensive. It's all about planning and preparation. Instead of relying on a restaurant lunch, make your lunch.” She says its important to stick to your whole grain breads, some fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and utilize foods that are low processed. She recommends a variety of produce, whole grains, breads and cereals, as well as mixing in lean meat, poultry and fish.

It's not always about shopping healthier when you're on a budget, but shopping smarter. With customer loyalty cards you can get incredible deals on some of your favorite foods.

"The best way to shop is really just grabbing our ad and taking a look at that,” says Chris Gomez, the District Manager of Kroger. “For example today we've got carrots, mini-peeled carrots, 10 for $10. What a great snack item for your children, or even for yourself. We've got corn 4 for $1."

While it may seem that buying a bag of lettuce for a salad is more expensive than just buying a bag of potato chips, when you combine these sale coupons with your favorite rewards card the prices become much more competitive.

Gomez says "Health is one of our (Kroger’s) values, we're constantly looking. Our customer base is really starting to shift for healthy eating. Our natural food and organics department is the largest growing department that we have in the store, but also throughout the state and throughout all the Kroger stores nationwide.”

Of course, sometimes the easiest way to save money, especially when buying by weight like at the deli counter, is just buying less. Tillapaugh says cutting back on the amount of food we purchase will help both your budget and your waistline. "Maybe you don't need to buy as much. You know when you think about your meals that you have, go for a 3-4 ounce piece of meat instead of a quarter or half-a-pound."

Yet Tillapaugh says the easiest way to save money and eat healthy is to stop wasting your money on sugary sweets and snacks. "The more nutritious foods we have at our meals and snacks the more healthier we will be and a lower chance that we'll have health problems like diabetes or high blood pressure or obesity."

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