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Boomers can eat healthy on a budget

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The cost of food is sky high. The price of groceries, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and dairy products, seems to jump each week, largely due to our harsh weather and higher energy costs. It is tough for many baby boomers to eat healthy when they can’t afford to buy nutritious and healthy food. Yet, it is possible to eat healthy while living on a budget but it requires ingenuity, creativity and innovative planning.

One of the best ways to stretch food budgets is to plan out your meals and snacks for the entire week, then shop accordingly, sticking to your shopping list and limiting your impulsive buys. The key is to plan and shop with foresight.

Once your meals are planned, prepare a shopping list with all of the items you will need. Then, start clipping coupons. Check out grocery and discount store fliers for sales and coupons. Take advantage of grocery store loyalty cards as most local stores now offer these and give good discounts with these cards. Go online to see if there are coupons for items on your list. Look for sites like Coupons.com, Groupon.com and Thecouponclippers.

When you go grocery shopping, do it when you are not hungry and have time to shop and compare prices. According to Helpguide.org, shop the perimeter of the store first so you can fill your cart with healthy whole foods like fresh produce and meat, leaving less room for the junk food to save money. Only visit aisles with items on your list.

Stock up on staples you use regularly when they are on sale so you have them when you need them. Buy items in bulk or in family packs as they are more cost effective. Your pantry should include a supply of canned foods and vegetables because they have longer shelf lives and come in handy when you need a quick meal. If you have a freezer, buy meat in quantity when it is on sale, divide it up into smaller packages and freeze it.

Cook in large quantities then freeze the remaining portions in smaller packages for future meals. This strategy works well for dishes like stews, casseroles and spaghetti sauce. Use leftovers for lunches and dinners rather than letting them go to waste.

There are other ways to save on your food budget. For one thing, reduce the number of times you go out to a restaurant or stop for fast food each week. Only go to more expensive restaurants for special occasions.

Another way is to start a garden. An herb garden is simple to grow and will save you from buying spices that you often use in cooking. Growing your own vegetables gives you an ample supply of healthy food as well as good exercise as you maintain your garden.

By planning your meals and shopping list, searching for bargains before you shop, especially for healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, then shopping strategically and preparing healthy meals, baby boomers can eat healthy on a budget.

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