Store dietician offers tips for eating healthy on a budget

By Corey AmEnde - Staff Writer
East Hartford, Manchester - posted Thu., Jun. 13, 2013
Comparing prices between pre-packaged salad and the loose-leaf lettuce is one way to save money, says Lindsey Gomes, a registered dietician with ShopRite in East Hartford and Manchester. Photos by Corey AmEnde.
Comparing prices between pre-packaged salad and the loose-leaf lettuce is one way to save money, says Lindsey Gomes, a registered dietician with ShopRite in East Hartford and Manchester. Photos by Corey AmEnde.

So you've made the decision to start eating healthy, but now how do you navigate the grocery store, make healthy choices and also stay on budget?  It seems like a daunting task, but one that can be accomplished if you follow a few basic tips.

Your tour guide for this exercise is Lindsey Gomes – a registered dietician and certified dietician–nutritionist (CD-N) for Connecticut.  Gomes works for the ShopRite stores in East Hartford and Manchester and is available to help guide customers through the process of healthy eating and answer any questions they may have.

“I'm an advocate for the customer,” said Gomes.

Before you even set foot in the grocery store, Gomes suggests getting organized for your trip. “For staying on budget, I would say just look at your circular and see what's on sale and kind of plan ahead with your meals,” said Gomes. 

“So you can look at the circular and say chicken breast is on sale, maybe you want to buy extra.  You can make a roasted chicken breast one night, but you cook all of it and then you can use the leftover chicken.” Re-purposing ingredients throughout the week, said Gomes, is one way to maximize your dollar.

Once you've entered the store, Gomes says to stick to the perimeter of the store, but also include the canned products aisle and frozen food aisle as part of your shopping trip. Buying produce that is in season is a good way to save some money, as these items are usually less expensive, Gomes said, but she added, "something that may not be in season, like Brussels sprouts, is more expensive in the produce season. If you look in the freezer section, it's almost half the price," she explained.

Also, compare unit pricing of products and you might be surprised how much you can save, according to Gomes. One tip to save money while eating healthy is to compare pre-packaged items like salads in a bag to buying them in the loose, unpacked form.  For example, a pre-packaged bag of salad mix will cost you $9.57 per pound, but if you buy the loose lettuce it will only cost you .99 to $1.49 a pound. Pre-packaged whole mushrooms retail for $2.67 per pound, while the sliced mushroom packages will cost you more than $2 extra per pound, at around $4.98. You might have to do a little extra prep work, she said, but your wallet will thank you. 

Gomes said it is also important to understand the various sources of protein in a healthy diet. “Proteins are not just chicken,” said Gomes. “You can have meat, you just want to look for the lean meat.” Fish – either canned or frozen – is also a good source of protein, added Gomes, in addition to vegetarian sources of protein like beans, soy beans, tofu and certain grains that are gaining in popularity now, such as quinoa and millet.

Buying in bulk can also help you save money. “If you're getting something like beans, it's more economical to buy dried beans," said Gomes. Having them in bulk allows you to just cook what you need and then keep the rest sealed for use at a later time. “With canned beans, you only get three and a half servings, and with dried beans you usually get eight or more servings for the same price.”

And don't worry, you can eat healthy and still have your sweets – just in moderation. “I think the biggest goal is to just eat healthy and then just treat yourself once in a while,” said Gomes.

For more information on healthy eating, or if you want to set up a one-on-one consultation with Gomes, you can reach her at 860-895-8390 or lindsey.gomes@wakefern.com.


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