People often forget to factor in the sick days, prescriptions, doctor visits and the price of a limited life from eating crappy foods.
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If you incorporate even just a few of these basic strategies on a regular basis, eating for optimal nutrition health can actually be a sound economic decision and valuable investment in your quality of life.
1. Buy starch carbs in bulk. Buy oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potatoes and beans in bulk. Always buy the economy-size containers when they are on sale.
2. Never purchase meat products at full price. Meat can be frozen for several months so you should only buy it when it is on sale. Watch newspaper inserts for "teaser" sales of meats designed to bring customers into the store. Tuna, chicken breast and lean beef cuts are always on sale at least twice a month. Look for "reduced for quick sale" or other daily specials and stock up when the price is right.
3. Shop using a grocery list. Doesn't buy impulsively. Every item you purchase that you don't need adds to your perceived cost of eating healthier. Sticking to a list will help ensure you don't misappropriate the grocery funds.
4. Buy generic. Let go of your brand and store loyalties. Shop by best value, not brand name.
5. Limit purchases of toiletries, cleaning product and prepackaged foods. This includes overpriced "diet" foods. These are typically items that are regularly on sale and can be stored a long time, so don't buy them for full price. You do not need separate cleansers for everything in the house, or to buy what you can make quickly at a fraction of the cost. You do, however, need quality groceries to fuel your body's purposes.
6. Don't throw anything away. Freezing leftovers like extra rice, sauces, or chicken in 1/2 cup "snack" baggies will save money and time. Save the extras for fast meals or lunches instead of eating out.
7. Primarily shop the outer ring of the store. Most of what you really need to eat is always in the outer ring of the store. The closer you get to the "epicenter," you'll start to notice chips, soda, too many cans and packages, and finally, cake mixes and ice cream.
8. Make your own salads. Bagged lettuce and pre-cut vegetables cost three to four times the price of uncut versions. You can tear two heads of dark leafy lettuce or cut up a few pounds of broccoli in less than one minute for the same grab-and-go convenience.
9. Limit experimentation with nutritional supplements, particularly if you are just beginning a training program. Buy one flavor of protein at a time when it is on sale. Buy what you need to keep training hard, but don't go crazy buying products that promise the results that only consistent diet and hard training deliver.
10. Don't smoke or drink heavily. A carton a week habit of smokes or two nights at the club is worth 50 pounds of sale-priced boneless, skinless chicken breast and at least a few years of life.
11. Eat clean — at home. Learn to cook, slacker. Stay home. Save your money for next Tuesday's meat sale or your monthly gym membership.
Chad Smith is a Hagerstown personal trainer. Read more, and get his new eBook "Best Of Fitness Answer Man: Volume One" at his blog. www.hometeamfitnessblog.com.