Saving money on grains and dairy

Whole grains and dairy – Healthy and cost less

Food prices probably won’t be going down in the near future, but we still need to eat. How can we make sure we are getting good nutrition while staying within our budgets? When looking at grains and dairy purchases, we can choose to:

  • Use an assortment of grain products, like barley, brown rice and whole wheat varieties of tortillas and bread.
  • Purchase enriched and fortified bread and cereal products.
  • Buy cereals without added sugar – you can easily add your own.
  • Buy blocks of cheese instead of paying someone else to shred it for you. You can effortlessly do that yourself.
  • Buy powdered milk to use in baking and cooking. When you make macaroni and cheese, nobody will know you didn’t add liquid milk.
  • Try plain yogurt and add your own fruit or flavoring.

MyPlate.gov advises us to “make half our grains whole.” What does that mean? It means to watch your labels by looking at the amount of fiber per serving and looking for whole grain products. The first ingredient of a product should be whole wheat or another whole grain. Check to see which is less expensive per serving and which you think is more nutritious.

Michigan State University Extension encourages you to make your dairy low-fat. If you still drink whole milk (four percent milk fat), could you reduce down to two percent milk (only two percent milk fat)? It only takes a couple weeks to change your taste buds if you choose to lower your fat intake through dairy. When doing taste tests last fall in our local schools, most of the students preferred low-fat milk to whole. Before the end of the year, you could possibly be drinking skim milk (zero milk fat) which eliminates extra fat from your diet!

With any product, if you look up to the higher shelves, or down to the lower ones, you may find cheaper alternatives to the name brand product. For saving money on food items, many people clip coupons for items they prefer and check sale flyers in order to stretch food dollars. However, sometimes people compromise their nutrition for the sake of saving money, so follow these tips to help you stay healthy, even with a limited food budget:

  • Shop for food only once or twice a week.
  • Make a shopping list and stick to it!
  • Clip coupons for only the products you use.
  • Try shopping at local food markets where growers gather to sell their products.
  • Try generic and store-brand foods. They are usually cheaper – compare prices.

MSU Extension says to remember to eat a balanced diet using all the food groups – it is important for any age. Planning your menus to make sure you include all food groups can make your life much easier to achieve a healthy diet. To contact someone in your area that can help plan meals or offer tips on stretching your food dollar visit www.msue.msu.edu or call 888-MSUE-4MI (888-678-3464).

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