WCL: Money-saving Healthy Food Tips

Food and nutrition expert Dawn Jackson Blatner shares her tips.

Just because you're trying to save money at the grocery store doesn't mean you can't eat healthy. Here are some of Dawn Jackson Blatner's favorite tips:

-Buy Seasonal Produce
You know it is seasonal because there tends to be a lot of it available at the store and it is on sale. Seasonal is not only a money value but also is some of the best tasting since it is picked in the prime of it flavor.

-Go Semi-Vegetarian
Cut back on the amount of meat you buy since it is a big ticket item. Try vegetarian meals such as canned white beans (rinsed and drained) in pasta instead of chicken or partial vegetarian meals such turkey and black bean tacos.

-Do Your Own Prep Work
You are paying for convenience with pre-cut fruits and veggies so you are better off spending a little extra time chopping your own. Right when you get home from the store, spend 15 minutes chopping

-Season Yourself
Avoid processed items such as seasoned rice packets, not only are they not as healthy (high in sodium and sometimes fat) you can buy plain rice and add your own seasoning.

-Snack Before You Shop
Don't go hungry. Hungry people are more likely to make impulse buys and wind up foods that are low in nutrition but carry a high price tag such as cookies and chips.

-Watch Out For Waste
A big place we lose money is by rotting and wasted produce in our own fridge. Buy part fresh produce and part frozen since the frozen has a longer shelf life (about 6 months plus.) Make sure you keep fresh produce at eye-level since you will be more likely to remember to eat it rather than if it is hidden and spoiling in the depths of the crisper.

-Do your own portioning
Mini portion controlled packages are a great way to keep tabs on your portions but it will cost you. Instead look at the label, remove the serving size, put it on your plate and then put the package away. No eating directly out of the large pack - you will eat more than just pulling out small, portioned amounts.

-Purchase store brands
They are usually a better value and use your store loyalty card to get the best deals.

-Beware of big buck beverages
Don't buy ready-made drinks such as sports drinks or juice. Buy versions that you have to add water to yourself (dried packs of sports drinks or concentrated juice). This saves you money because you aren't paying for the transportation of heavy water-based drinks - it is also environmentally conscious since it reduces gas/transportation emissions.

-Shop relaxed
Don't go when you are rushed since you are more likely to throw things in your cart that you won't need. Try to go to the store on Wednesday since that is the least popular day and fewer carts bumping into you will make for a more tranquil time. Shop between 9PM and 8AM since those are the least crowded times.

-Focus on the food
Avoid non-food items such as shampoo, toothpaste and toilet paper at the grocery store. Those items are usually cheaper at large discount stores.

About Dawn
Dawn is a registered dietitian and certified specialist in sports dietetics. She is the nutrition consultant for the Chicago Cubs, a food and nutrition blogger with USA Today and Huffington Post and a nutrition expert on the advisory board of Fitness magazine. She has a private practice based in Chicago, IL providing personalized nutrition counseling and educational workshops. Most recently Dawn received Lifetime Television 2011 "Remarkable Woman Award" for her work in the field of nutrition.

For more information go to: www.dawnjacksonblatner.com