5 Ways to Eat Smart Without Hurting Your Wallet

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Eating healthy seems like a fantastic idea—until the bill comes. The cost of all that healthy food can give you heartburn and make the fast food drive through seem like an appealing option again. You don’t have to be a transplant from the Great Depression to figure out how to stretch your last buck into some healthy grub. Figuring out where to buy your food, when to buy it and from whom will make a big difference in the budget at the end of the month.

5 Eat Like a Poor Person

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The poor people of the world have figured out ways to live on very little money. One of the keys to survival in the poorest regions on Earth is the fact that rice and beans together are both cheap and filling. Take a world tour with your cuisine and eat the lentil soup of Egypt, the bean burritos of Mexico and irio from Kenya—it’s mashed potatoes and veggies. Replace the meat for a couple meals a week with the food of the poor and you’ll save a nice chunk of money.

4 Freeze!

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Not every food freezes well, but enough of them do to make it worth your time. Berries from the summer can be frozen and enjoyed all year long. If you get lots of meat from the butcher, wrap it in aluminum foil and then put it in a plastic bag to freeze it and ward off freezer burn. Make large portions of food and freeze the leftovers for quick meals later on. Stock up on sales and freeze the excess until you need it.

3 Love a Farmer

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The closer you can get to the source of your food, the cheaper and fresher it will be. Trot on down to your local farmers’ market to see what they have on offer there. Or join a local community supported agriculture group so you know where your food is coming from. Some will even deliver right to your door. If you stock up during the right season, you can save lots of money. For example, apples in season are often less than half the cost of apples out of season.

2 Make Your Own

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For prepared foods, you’re paying as much for the work as the actual nutrition, plus you’re stuck with the ingredients they chose at the factory. One example is peanut butter. You can buy peanuts cheaply, in bulk and grind them up in your food processor. Then you can add as much or little salt and sugar as you want—or substitute a non-sugar sweetener—and do it cheaper than the health-food jar of peanut butter. Another tip is to buy primal cuts of meat and cut them down yourself—a beef loin is much cheaper than individual cuts of filet mignon, but cut it up and it’s just as delicious.

1 Judge Organics by Their Cover

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You’re not supposed to judge by appearances—for people—but for food it’s a different story. Organic food is more expensive than non-organic food. But it’s nice to skip that side of pesticides and antibiotics with the salad. What’s a smart, frugal eater to do? Skip the organic label for food where you don’t eat the skin and that aren’t in the ground. So bananas, avocados and squash don’t really need to be organic. But strawberries, potatoes and apples are worth the organic price.

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