Pricey doesn't always equal healthy: picking good-for-you items on a budget

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- When you go grocery shopping and pick between two items, do you assume the more expensive one is the healthier choice?

According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, a lot of us do. In fact we're skeptical of health claims on the cheaper packaging and rely on price to guide us toward healthier foods. Consumer Reports has some tips for saving money while shopping healthy.

While buying organic produce is a great way to limit your exposure to chemical pesticide residues you can be picky about your purchases to save money.

Some non-organic produce is very low in pesticides, according to Consumer Reports tests. Avocados, corn and onions are a few. But you can be thrifty when still buying organic. You can save money by purchasing store-brand organics and getting them in bulk. In fact some organics are actually cheaper than regular brands.

Don't be tempted into buying expensive processed foods just because they say "healthy" or "natural" on the box. Instead, Consumer Reports food experts advise that a good rule of thumb is to look for a short ingredient list. Those foods will probably be less processed with more wholesome ingredients.

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On average, a family of four throws out $1,500 worth of food each year. You can save money by thinking about what food you're going to buy and how you're going to use it. Buying in-season produce means you'll eat cheaper, fresher fruits and veggies. But if you have to eat something like blueberries in winter, save money and buy frozen instead.

Don't toss produce that's past its prime. Save overripe fruits and veggies in the freezer. Those bruised bananas and berries can be delicious in smoothies or breads, while imperfect veggies can make a perfect homemade soup.

Here's another tip - you'll often see those packages of pre-cut fruits and vegetables in the fresh produce section. Give them a pass - you'll pay a premium and they don't have any additional nutritional value.

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