Shopping with a plan

July 30, 2008 10:14:46 AM PDT
In today's Stretch Your Dollar we all know we should buy healthy food but sometimes it seems easier and cheaper to pick up the junk.You can actually save time and money on health food if you know how to shop.

The first thing you have to do is change your habits at the grocery store. It means you cannot walk in without a plan. A Houston dietician shows us just how easy it is as she takes us to the grocery store for a healthy food tour.

Dietician Cassie Dimmick has made a business out of giving shopping lessons at the grocery store. Like many of us, those who sign up for her tour admit they get overwhelmed with the huge selection of food, labels and price comparison shopping.

"So the first thing that you need to do when you come to the store is have a plan," she said.

That's right, no more wandering around the store picking up random items. Cassie stresses the importance of shopping the outside perimeter of the store for the majority of your groceries.

"That's where most of the healthy foods are," she said.

The produce section is where Cassie suggests shoppers spend the most time. We are supposed to eat ten servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

"You can mix and match those with some fresh, some frozen," Cassie advised.

The way to save money here is to buy produce on sale and in season. For example, cherries are in season right now. Pears are not. The stores still sell them, they're just more expensive. Also, buy locally grown. Since these foods aren't shipped from far away, they'll stay fresh longer. We find Texas blueberries on sale for $2 a pint.

"You're getting a lot of nutrition for $2 here and you can spend $2 on a soda and a candy bar and get nothing out of that," she said.

Over in the green vegetables section, Cassie tells the class it's better to buy whole vegetables and chop them up yourself instead of picking up the salad bags.

"Convenience usually costs a little bit more," she informed us.

Leafy green vegetables are the most nutritious, have few calories and fill you up fast.

"A nice big salad usually gives you four to five vegetables," Cassie told us.

In the deli section, Cassie says stick to low fat for your cheese and deli meat and buy the store brand to save money. The dairy section can be especially confusing with so many options like all those fruit-and-flavored yogurts. But Cassie says a good rule of thumb is to keep it simple.

"This is the best option if you do plain non fat yogurt," Cassie told us.

You can always add your own, fresh fruit. It'll save you money and it's a healthier option.

Click here for a list of the fruits and veggies in season right now.

To sign up for a Healthy Grocery Store Tour: www.achievingyourbest.net

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