Shop 'til you drop less money and more pounds

Originally Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2012, 9:13 pm
Last Updated: Nov. 13, 2012, 1:27 pm
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By Bev Bennett

It can be as obvious as the higher price sticker on your favorite brand of coffee, or maybe it's hidden in the shrinking package weight of your customary breakfast cereal.
However the information is delivered, you know food prices are increasing.

You could be paying 3-4 percent more than you did a year ago, according to U.S. Agriculture Department, which tracks the change in the price of food, along with other goods and services in the Consumer Price Index (based on mid-September figures).

Although you're feeling pain at the checkout counter, you can turn rising food costs into an opportunity to improve your eating habits.

Now is the time to get the most nutrition from the food dollars you spend, says Nelda Mercer, a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Plan menus that include healthful foods, especially those on sale; cut back on empty-calorie snack foods; and if your meals were based on the takeout menu, start cooking instead.

Like many shoppers you probably have a set amount you want to spend on groceries each week. If you want to stay within your budget, don't go into a store unprepared, says Sarah Krieger, St. Petersburg, Fla., a licensed and registered dietitian, and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Check the supermarket flyers and see what's on sale.

Put a positive spin on shopping by thinking about what to include, not eliminate from your diet, Mercer says.

She recommends your grocery cart include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and/or alternative proteins such as beans, nuts, poultry, fish and eggs along with dairy foods.

You may have to decide between convenience and cost.

"The more prepared a food is, the more you're going to pay for it. If you're buying a boneless, skinless chicken breast you're paying more than if you're buying the whole breast, says Krieger, who provides a meal service in her hometown.

Also, use grocery shopping as a teachable moment for your children.
Show them how to read the Nutrition Facts panel and ingredient lists printed on packaged food labels. Ask them to choose a breakfast cereal with five grams of dietary fiber or minimal added sugar.

You probably won't convince your children to forego snack foods completely, but you can tell them they have to make snacks last.

"That's the silver lining in this thing. It [price hikes] really makes you pay attention to portion control.

"If you spent $4.49 on a bag of chips you want to slow down and make the chips last a week," Krieger says. "Once they're gone, they're gone."


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