Healthy eating can come costly to the average person. With the US economy stagnant, customers nationwide in grocery and retail stores find themselves in a tailspin on what to buy. Purchasing a 12 pack of PowerBars or Balance Bars may add up quickly in the checkout line, but there are other alternatives to simply supplementing your diet with tons of prepackaged products. Here are some tips to help you get in and out of the grocery store with nutritious foods while still sparing your wallet.

Steer Your Grocery Cart in the Right Direction

Shopping the perimeter of your grocery store is your best strategy for both your pocket and for your waistline.  The perimeter of the grocery store is abundant with the freshest and healthiest foods. As you pace yourself throughout the perimeter of the store you will discover the produce, dairy, seafood and meat sections. Foods found on the perimeter of the store tend to not be processed and hence do not have chemicals and other harmful fillers.

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In order to find out whether foods are processed or not, simply look at the ingredient list. You’re in good hands if you notice under 10 ingredients, most of the foods on the perimeter should contain fewer than 5 ingredients. Expiration dates are crucial for a healthy diet as well. Good food should expire. The longer the shelf life of the item, the more preservatives it typically has. Opt for foods that spoil.

Grab Quick Sources of Protein

healthy eatingTo maintain muscle mass, you need about 1g of protein per pound of body weight. Eggs are a quick, efficient and inexpensive source of protein. They also contain all of your essential amino acids plus good sources of fats into an affordable package.

Nut butters are another option for a protein packed food that won’t break the bank. One or two tablespoons of peanut butter provides seven grams of protein, not to mention a healthy dose of fiber and fats. Fiber will help you feel full longer to prevent you from binging on harmful junk foods. You can add peanut butter to your meals, but it’s also perfect for a quick snack.

Heading to bed? Need a quick, efficient lunch fix for your salad or even as an entrée? Look no further. A cost friendly, protein and vitamin packed food, cottage cheese is a healthy addition to your diet. Cottage cheese is packed with a slow-digesting protein referred to as “casein.” This protein usually takes several hours to absorb into the bloodstream, providing your body with a full supply of protein throughout your slumber.

Looking for a quick protein source to eat on the go? With a whopping 40 grams of protein per can, tuna is both an inexpensive and convenient source of protein, and omega-3 fats.

Fill Up On Fruits and Veggies For Healthy Eating

Fruit and vegetables are nutrient dense foods that are packed with fiber to keep you full. This helps prevent tons of snacking in between meals. Apples, bananas, peppers, broccoli, all come at a relatively cheap price, but the benefits are numerous. Most fruits and vegetables have no cholesterol and are very low in fat and sodium. Plus, they are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Consuming vegetables and fruits are the cornerstone of any diet.

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be expensive. Shedding excess pounds and gaining muscle can all come at a convenient, inexpensive price. With proper planning ahead such as jotting foods down on a list and cutting out coupons, you can save money while still buying tons of nutritious foods.