It’s hard to pass up $1 pizza slice specials. Maybe that’s why college students often opt for fatty foods over healthy ones — they’re cheap. And after the drought this summer across the western U.S., prices for healthy foods continue to rise.
To help, the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit environmental research organization, released a “Good Food on a Tight Budget” guide last week. The group examined close to 1,200 foods based on their prices, nutrients, pesticides, environmental pollutants and artificial ingredients.
For fruit, bananas, pears and watermelon are the best buys. When it comes to vegetables, broccoli, carrots and potatoes are at the top — the healthiest bang for your buck. Toasted oat cereal, brown rice and barley are good foods in the grain category. Under protein, canned tuna takes the gold, along with black beans, turkey and sunflower seeds. Nonfat milk, one percent milk, cottage cheese and nonfat plain yogurt are excellent choices in dairy.
Don’t forget it’s important to plan out what you’re getting before you shop. The guide suggests creating a detailed shopping list and checking food flyers for specials. Choose beans and lentils more often than meats, skip processed foods and add more vegetables and fruits. Cutting back on junk opens up more money for healthy foods — even on a budget. When you’re at home, cook and freeze large quantities of food, or grow your own food if you have the space.
Lettuce, green peppers and peaches may have more pesticides than other fruits and vegetables, so those are better organic purchases. Cutting down on cheese can also help save money. While Colby, Monterey and mozzarella cheeses often have less saturated fat, they also have more salt and additives.
When heading to the store keep in mind what foods you will actually eat. The last thing you want to do is buy food that will just rot. It’s okay to indulge every now and then, but the real key is creating a balance and not over spending.
This week’s sales:
Grain: Wegmans, whole grain soft bread, $1.99 per bag.
Vegetables: ALDI, carrots, $0.69 for two pounds.
Fruit: Tops, nectarines, $1.49 per pound.
Meat: P&C, Philly-Gourmet turkey patties, buy one, get one free.
Dairy: Greenstar, The Greek Gods greek yogurt, $3.29 for 32 ounces.