Consumer Reports

Eating healthier for less money

By Consumer Reports
Eating more healthfully doesn’t mean you have to spend more money at the supermarket. ShopSmart, the shopping magazine published by Consumer Reports, recently crunched the numbers to find foods and drinks that pack lots of nutrition for the buck, highlighting 25 deals that offer easy ways to get all of the nutritional essentials without overhauling your shopping list.
“It’s true — you can eat healthy and save money!” said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. “And you don’t necessarily have to completely overhaul your fridge and pantry. Sometimes all it takes is a few tweaks to your shopping list. For example, just grabbing black beans over white ones or canned tomatoes instead of fresh can make a difference.”
Below is a sampling of ShopSmart’s advice on new ways to save:
Antioxidants: cheap ways to get a super nutrient fix
— Cabbage (16 cents per serving; $2.50 for one medium head): Cabbage is loaded with Vitamins A and C. Try an Asian-inspired slaw of shredded cabbage, cashews and lime juice and sesame oil vinaigrette.
— Canned unsweetened pumpkin (38 cents per serving; $1.32 per 15-ounce can): The bright orange hue is a tip-off to high levels of beta-carotene, which might help protect vision. Sub it for sugar in muffins and blend it with Greek yogurt for a pudding-like treat.
Calcium: Feed Your Bones for Less Than $1 Per Serving
— Nonfat dry milk powder (17 cents per reconstituted cup; $5.99 per 26-ounce container): This is just milk that’s had the water removed, so it equals the calcium and protein of regular milk for about 10 cents less a serving. Stir spoonfuls of milk powder into casseroles and mashed potatoes.
— Plain yogurt (70 cents per serving; $8.39 per case of 12): This quick and handy way to get calcium is also brimming with protein and good bacteria that aid digestion. For flavored yogurt at a fraction of the calories, stir in vanilla extract or an all-fruit spread. Yogurt also makes an excellent swap for cream in soups and desserts or sour cream on potatoes.
Fiber: stay regular for less than 50 cents a serving
— Quinoa (50 cents per serving; $3.99 per 12-ounce package): Quick-cooking quinoa has almost 50 percent more fiber than brown rice, plus a dose of protein. Simmer with milk and honey for a comforting hot breakfast, or use in place of rice.
— Popcorn (12 cents per serving; $1.89 per 28-ounce bag): Popcorn eaters get about 22 percent more fiber than non-popcorn eaters. Don’t pile on calories with butter: spritz air-popped corn with cooking spray and toss with chili powder or oregano.
Protein: fuel up for as little as 18 cents
— Dried black beans (24 cents per serving; $1.45 for 16-ounce bag): All beans are stellar sources of protein, fiber, and blood-pressure-friendly potassium, but dark beans pack more nutrients. For a more healthful taco filling, use less lean ground beef and mix in mashed-up beans.
— Peanuts in the shell (12 cents per serving; $1.99 for 16 ounces): They’re a cheap protein fix, and they shell out more than 30 essential nutrients, including a phytochemical linked to a reduction in heart disease and cancer risk. Coat fish fillets with finely chopped nuts before baking, or keep some in your office or car for a terrific pick-me-up.
Omega-3s: heart-healthy bargains
— Frozen shrimp ($1.36; $14.99 per 2-pound bag): Frozen shrimp is a low-calorie and relatively cheap source of omega-3s. Saute shrimp with garlic and finely diced sun-dried tomatoes and serve on salad greens.
— Flaxseed (11 cents per serving; $1.79 per 16-ounce bag): This mighty seed has omega-3s and other fatty acids linked to immune-system strength, cardiovascular health, and cancer prevention. Whole flaxseeds pass through the body undigested, so grind them in the coffee grinder, then mix with spices to sprinkle on beans, grains and salads.