Get Supermarket Savvy
If you're convinced that eating right is time-consuming and expensive, we've got news for you: Buying colorful produce, low-fat dairy, whole grains, and lean protein actually costs way less, and these foods are a whole lot quicker to prepare than you think. To prove it, FITNESS recently stopped four women in the aisles of the Super Stop & Shop in Ossining, New York, and gave their grocery carts a makeover.The Multitasking Mom
Michele Madiou, 47, Cortland Manor, New York
Michele and her three kids, ages 16, 15, and 5, are vegetarians (they eat dairy, but no eggs, poultry, meat, or fish), so they go through a lot of fruits and vegetables in a week. Her husband and her mom, who lives with them, eat meat, so Michele has to find options that work for them, too. And she's always trying to save money. Between feeding six people and buying loads of produce, her grocery bill can typically run more than $175 a week.Her Go-To Groceries
Spinach, romaine lettuce, cauliflower, red and green peppers, organic apples, pita chips, organic tortilla chips, sugar-sweetened cereal, whole-grain cereal, whole wheat cinnamon-swirl bread, whole wheat naan, pasta, low-fat frozen dinners, deli turkeyBetter Grocery Buys
Simplify Your Shopping List
Instead of prepping two meals each night, Michele can buy ingredients for one dinner that everyone will love. A pasta dish, such as baked ziti, is vegetarian yet hearty enough for meat eaters. Or she can whip up a quick stir-fry: While the vegetables are cooking in one pan, she can saute diced chicken or shrimp in another to add to her mother's and husband's portions.
Pump Up the Protein
Vegetarians often have a tough time getting enough protein, which is especially important for growing kids. Michele needs to make sure hers consume two to three servings of milk, yogurt, or cheese each day, and she herself should aim for three servings. Choosing foods that are high in vegetable protein, such as beans, tofu, and peanut butter, will also help them meet their quota.
Her kids love to munch on chips, but we convinced Michele to put back one of her two bags in favor of some in-season fruits. Our top pick: blackberries for only 99 cents and watermelon on sale for 79 cents per pound. If she offers fruit along with chips at snacktime, her children are likely to eat it.
Sneak In the Good Stuff
Michele loves whole-grain cereal, but her children are still hooked on the sweetened kind. To wean them off it, she can serve them their favorite but mix in a little of hers. Each week, she'll increase the amount to transition them without a struggle.
Total savings: about $17*
*All prices are as of 5/7/09.
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