Foods that shrink waistlines, fatten wallets

November 6, 2012 3:17:52 PM PST
With the holidays just around the corner, your best defense from gaining weight may be to jump start healthy eating now. But which foods are good for you and your wallet?

There are so many misconceptions about what is considered healthy. And while some of you may shy away from canned and frozen food, it actually could be a good money-saving option.

When it comes to stretching a meal, shopper Blynthia Williams is pinching pennies.

"I am trying. Everybody is doing what they can nowadays until this economy turns around," she said.

But Williams is not choosing junk food. She wants to feed her family healthy meals. That's why she has canned and frozen vegetables in her cart.

Penny Wilson, a dietician with Memorial Hermann Hospital, says that's a smart move.

"You can definitely save money and eat healthy at the same time," Wilson said.

Tip No. 1: To save big, choose frozen over fresh. It's usually cheaper.

"The frozen vegetables are picked at the peak of ripeness and frozen right then," Wilson said.

Take for example, broccoli. We found it for $2.18 fresh, but in the frozen food section, broccoli cuts cost a dollar a bag for about the same size of the fresh bunch.

"And you don't have to worry about them going bad," Wilson said.

Tip No. 2: Go for canned vegetables.

"We grew up on canned vegetables. That's all we had on my house," shopper Kathy Kouri said.

Wilson says while fresh produce is always a great option, she says canned vegetables are a healthy substitute. Just read your labels.

"Get the ones without added salt. You will see 'no added salt' because they do tend to add added salt into the canned vegetables," Wilson said.

Tip No. 3: Beans are a super food.

"A lot of people do not realize that beans can be also be a good source of protein and then fiber," Wilson said.

Wilson says canned beans are a great option but to save even more money, pick up dried beans.

Tip No. 4: Buy your grains, like oats or brown rice, from the bulk food containers. Wilson says you will save a bundle.

For example, we picked up a pound of steel-cut oats for $1.29, versus $4.69 for a pound and a half of oats we found on the shelf.

Finally, pick super foods that are jam packed with vitamins and very budget friendly. These include sweet potatoes, apples and kale.

Wilson says if you are going to eat canned vegetables and want to instantly lower the sodium, rinse your vegetables to wash away a lot of salt.

You can't usually eat too many green vegetables, but when it comes to other carbs like fruit and grains, always limit it to a serving size, which is the size of your fist.

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