Food Buying Tips

Food Buying Tips

Getting the most nutrition for your money can be hard when you don't have a lot of money for groceries, but it's not impossible. According to dietitians and nutritionists, some foods are better than others when you're trying to stretch a dollar. Here are seven that you should consider when funds are tight:

Brown rice. The vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are some of the benefits, but one of the biggest pluses may be that the high amount of fiber in brown rice helps slow digestion and fill you up for a long time.

Fiber is one of the best [nutritional components] that helps with the feeling of fullness say some food and nutrition consultants. They also help to spread the food dollar because they're a component of meals that can help you make a fulfilling dish.

Beans. Like many items at the grocery store, buying in bulk can save a lot of money. Dry beans can cost about $1 per pound and expand to three times their volume when cooked, turning three to four cups of dry beans into nine cups when cooked. And beans, like rice, can be flavored with spices and herbs to make the main portion of a meal.
Beans are also a very healthy choice. They are high in fiber and protein, low in fat and sodium and have minerals such as iron, potassium, magnesium, copper and zinc, along with vitamins such as folic acid, thiamin, niacin and B6.

Potatoes. These versatile vegetables can be added to casseroles and used in a variety of ways, and they're every bit as nutritious as colored vegetables. Nutritionists say they contain 45 percent of the recommended daily nutritional intake of vitamin C, 18 percent of fiber and 18 percent of potassium, a mineral that regulates blood pressure. They've been found to have the lowest cost source of dietary potassium.
The average potato is virtually fat free, with a high water and fiber content to make it ideal for weight-loss at 200 calories for an average baked potato, according to information from Be careful how you cook them. Frying a potato raises fat content from 0 to 8 grams.

Green vegetables. Any leafy greens, such as broccoli, spinach and kale, have lots of nutrients per calorie and may help protect against inflammation and disease. Some lettuces can be bitter but can be offset in a salad with carrots, beets and other sweet vegetables.
Instead of buying an expensive dressing for any of these foods, perhaps mixing a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil with juice from half of a lemon or lime would be better.

Frozen vegetables. Buying fresh vegetables in season is an inexpensive way to get them, but frozen vegetables are a good option too. They're picked at the peak of their flavor and aren't nutritionally inferior to fresh ones. The downside of fresh vegetables is they might be picked before their height of ripeness and often travel many miles to a grocery store.

Peanut butter. This is another economic source of protein, rich in healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Peanuts contain resveratrol, an antioxidant found in red wine, says Sharon Palmer, a Duarte, Calif.-based food and nutrition writer who covers plant-powered diets.

Protein bars. You may not want to make them the only part of your diet, but they obviously have protein in them and cost about $2 each.

The best answer to getting the most nutritional foods for your buck may be to simply buy fresh food that's in season and not to fall for the theory that fast food is cheaper than what you can purchase at the grocery store. Fast food may be quicker than preparing a meal at home, but it won't beat buying fresh fruit and vegetables in taste or cost.

Albany County ExecutiveDaniel P. McCoy