June 7, 2013 at 8:00 am EDT | by Bucky Mitchell
Smart shopping
Organic, groceries, diet, Gay News, Washington Blade

Think eating healthy and organic costs more? Here are a few tips to keep your grocery bill in check. (Photo by ornello_pics via Flickr)

The Amish Trainer: As a personal trainer, my clients voice many questions concerning the high cost of eating a healthy, organic diet. Below are four great tips that will help debunk this myth:

1. Don’t buy food in the package. As often as possible buy your foods, specifically your fruits and veggies, in their most natural state. When you’re at the organic produce section, buy that individual onion, pepper, cucumber, etc. or buy those fresh bundles of spinach, kales, beets, herbs, etc. Often we tend to buy our groceries in packages because the packages not only look pretty and we know the item is already washed, cut and prepared to serve. Although you may think this is saving you time, it’s costing you a lot more money. To put this theory to the test, I decided to buy all my groceries in packages for one week and all my groceries in their natural state for the next week. When I reviewed my receipts, I saved $40 the second week. Although this may not seem like a lot, it adds up over time. If you do the math it is about $2,000 a year (a nice trip on one of those hot gay cruise ships)!

2. Look high and low. One of the biggest mistakes we make when shopping at the grocery store is buying grocery items that are at eye level. To be honest, we’re lazy and want what is right in front of us instead of doing a little work to look for the healthier item. The grocery store knows this so well that many of the items at eye level are also on sale. This is often a great way for grocery stores to promote their own brands, which generally are not the healthiest. Your grocery store is trying to get you. If it’s on sale and at eye level, it must be the item for you. Wrong! Generally, if the item is on sale and at eye level, the item often contains or is made with simple carbohydrates and poor ingredients such as white bleached flour, sugar and high fructose corn syrup. To ensure you’re getting the best and healthiest options, be sure to take the time to look high or low on the grocery store shelf. You are bound to find much healthier options when you do.

3. Read labels. Although you may think reading labels is time consuming, it’s essential when eating healthy. Most products are mislabeled or labeled in a way that makes them look and sound healthier. A great example of this is olive oil. Many of the olive oil brands promote extra-virgin olive oil but aren’t actually extra-virgin olive oil. If you read the label carefully, most of them say “Extra Olive Oil Flavored” or “Tastes Like Extra Olive Oil.” Not only should you read the labels, you should also look for two specific items on the labels. One, be sure that you look for the USDA Organic Icon that is in a white circle with green lettering. Second, be sure that you look for the Non-GMO (Genetically Modify Organism) Project Icon that is light blue with a small red butterfly on a green leaf.

4.  Sign up for rewards and apps. Almost every grocery store has some sort of rewards program or a store app. Take a few minutes to sign up, download and save.  Often the rewards program and apps provide deep discounts or coupons only to those people who have signed up for the rewards. Last week I got a two-for-one deal on my organic peanut butter. It’s the small things that make me happy. In addition, the apps and rewards programs allow you track what you buy and let you see if the item(s) you buy most frequently is on sale.

These steps may seem individually inconsequential, but the cumulative effect can be significant.

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