First, she checks the front and back pages of the supermarket circular -- where the best deals are usually printed.
She finds boneless, skinless chicken breast on sale, along with lots of produce.
Then she revises her list to include those sale items.
"So let's say they want peaches that week, but peaches aren't on sale," she says, "They can easily play circular swap. You can just take those peaches out and replace them with apples which are on sale."
Once she hits the store, Melissa sticks to the outside aisles. She avoids the middle, where less-healthy, processed foods are sold.
"When you shop the perimeter of the store, you have your fruits and vegetables, you go around to your meats and then around to your dairy products," Cassera says. They're all of the things that are in their most natural form."
"Once you go down the middle aisles, you're getting into those pre-processed foods. And they're the ones you really want to stay away from. "
Though Melissa likes organic fruit, she'll save money by buying non-organic items you peel -- like bananas and oranges.
In the bread aisle, she only buys bread labeled 100% whole grain -- she says usually at least one brand is on sale, and it's better than loaves that say "good source of whole grain" or "made with whole grain."
In the dairy aisle, she skips the small containers of pre-sweetened yogurt, opting for the less expensive, large cartons of plain yogurt. Then she adds her own fresh fruit.
Melissa's other tips:
Buy only reduced fat cheeses. Or use a small amount of stronger-flavored cheeses, like bleu, to get more flavor with less fat.
Buy chicken thighs instead of breasts. They're much cheaper and if you take the skin off, they're flavorful and healthy.
Avoid non-organic apples, pears and strawberries. They have the highest-levels of pesticides.
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