Nutritious foods stretch food dollar

Elizabeth S. Reames  |  5/19/2008 7:50:25 PM

News You Can Use Distributed 05/20/08

To make each food dollar go farther, remember that healthy foods give you more value for the buck. Thrifty shopping, however, requires planning before and during trips to the store, according to LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames.

The most important step is to make a plan – a menu plan. Ask family members to help you write a menu plan for a week, then make your grocery list and stick to that list.

Reames says to use the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPyramid to plan nutritious meals and snacks. The personalized eating plan may be found at Choose a variety of foods from grains, vegetables, fruits, nonfat milk, lean meat, fish, poultry, beans and nuts.

MyPyramid recommends 5 to 6 ounces of meat or other protein each day for most people. A portion of meat is 2 to 3 ounces, about the size of a deck of cards. Many people are surprised to learn they're eating twice (or even more than) the recommended amount.

Less expensive substitutes for meat are dry beans and peas and nuts. Include high protein meat substitutes such as red beans, lentils or peanut butter in meals and snacks more often. Mix ground meat with whole grain bread, brown rice, oatmeal or grated vegetables, such as carrots, onions or squash.

Reames offers additional ideas for grocery savings:

– Check the sale ads before you go shopping to see what’s on sale.

– Know the regular prices of items you generally buy. This way you will recognize when an advertised special is really a bargain.

– Buy fresh fruit and vegetables in season; they taste better and usually cost less.

– If you have freezer space, stock up on specials, such as large packages of meats or frozen vegetables, and freeze them for later. Be sure to label frozen foods with the name of the food and the date it was frozen.

– Avoid buying convenience or "instant" foods, which are often more expensive than made-from-scratch foods.

– Plan the use of leftovers for another meal or in casseroles or soups, for snacks and in lunch boxes.

– If possible, shop alone and after you've eaten. Family members may put pressure on you to buy items not on your list. If you go to the store hungry, you might buy things you don't need or can't afford.

For additional information on food shopping, contact an LSU AgCenter Extension Family and Consumer Science agent. For related nutrition topics, click on the Food and Health link on the LSU AgCenter homepage at


On the Internet: LSU AgCenter:
Contact: Beth Reames (225) 578-3929 or Editor: Mark Claesgens (225) 578-2939 or

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