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Healthy eating on a budget


vegetables (Lauren/KTXS)
vegetables (Lauren/KTXS)
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With U.S. consumer prices jumping 9.1% year over year in June, every aspect of life is more expensive these days - including what's in our shopping carts at the grocery stores. However, Amy Yates, an Abilene nutritionist, says people should do their best to prioritize healthy eating when walking down the aisles.

"I think we think that eating healthy is going to cost a lot," she said. "And it is expensive, but health care is more expensive. So I always encourage people - you're going to pay for it on one end or the other, so let's pay for it on the front end, preventatively."

One of the most basic ways you can cut costs is through the format of your food.

"We've become a very convenient society, where we want everything to come pre-packaged or-pre cut," she said. "And you can really cut a lot of corners - it takes a little bit of time, but just by chopping your own fruit, your own vegetables, you know, you can buy a jar of apple sauce for a lot cheaper than your little mini packages."

Yates says when it comes to food quality, protein should be your number one priority.

"Whether you're a child and you're growing or you're an adult and you're aging, its absolutely essential we have good protein in our diet," she said.

One important thing to look out for is labeling - you can be buying something you think is healthy when it's really not.

"The label 'natural', 'all-natural' - that is not regulated at all," said Yates. "So oftentimes we'll be paying more for protein that says all natural when really it's not necessary."

Another healthy staple is of course fruits and vegetables. The key to saving on those is timing.

"We are really fortunate to live in an area where you can get a lot of fruit and vegetables," she said, "If you'll eat them in season, they're a lot more affordable as well."

Buying in bulk can help for bigger families - even with fruits and vegetables.

"You can do frozen, so often we feel like that's a little bit less nutritious but you're still getting some good nutrition buying your fruits frozen and your vegetables frozen," she said. "I would say go for that over reaching for the more heavily processed can foods or the sugary treats."

While kids may not always be the biggest fans of fruit and vegetables, she says children'sā€™ taste buds change every six weeks, so encouraging them to to try new things over and over can be fruitful.

"I have something called the grumpy smoothie that we do where we put all those good veggies and stuff in there and put a little bit of whip cream on top and a fun straw and you would be amazed how many children take that fun smoothies down," she said.

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