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Sun, Feb. 16

Eating healthfully on a budget is possible

Eating well doesn't have to mean spending more money or buying costly "health foods." You can eat well on a budget by planning ahead and choosing foods that give you more nutrition for your money.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) offers the following advice to help you spend less to eat right:

• Plan your meals and snacks in advance. Take a shopping list with you to the grocery store and try to buy only the items on the list. Before you shop, check store flyers to look for nutritious foods and ingredients that are on sale.

• Choose store brands instead of name brands. Also clip and use coupons, look for items that are on sale, or use supermarket discount cards.

• Buy large sizes of foods and separate them into individual or family-size servings. You can also share them with a friend or neighbor. Large sizes may cost less per pound or other unit, but they aren't a bargain if you end up throwing out a lot of the food.

• Get more nutrition for your money by choosing fruits and vegetables, fat-free or low-fat milk products, whole grains, lean meats and other healthy foods. Avoid convenience foods, as they tend to be more expensive.

• Before you buy, think about how much of a product you'll really use. Buy only enough fresh fruits and vegetables to eat within a few days. Also, try not to buy more perishable items than you will use before the "use-by" date marked on the package.

• Buy skim milk powder. Skim milk powder is considerably less expensive than regular milk and is easy to store. Use it for sauces, casseroles, soups, mashed potatoes and other dishes.

• Buy cheaper cuts of meat and marinate them or cook them at a lower temperature for longer.

• Pack healthy lunches and snacks to take to work or school.

• Share meal preparation and ingredient costs with friends. This can save money and be fun. For instance, you might plan a potluck dinner with neighbors.

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