Budget-friendly, healthy food shopping

April 2, 2012 2:25:38 PM PDT

Joel Legatt is a health and nutrition educator at 11th Street Family Health Services.

The clinic is near the Fresh Grocer supermarket at Progress Plaza (1501 North Broad St.) and Joel gives clients store tours, while offering tips on how they can shop healthy and still stick to their budgets.

The advice is good no matter where you shop.

"You have to be more careful and you have to be smart about certain options," Legatt says. "But there are healthy options out there."

His first tip: Before you shop, check the weekly specials, especially deals on produce and lean proteins.

"If you go in with a game plan, you're going to come out with better results," he says.

The week we went shopping, the deals included bananas for $.39 a pound, lettuce for $.99, cantaloupes two for $3 and split chicken breasts for $.99 a pound.

For the chicken, Legatt explained, "As long as you grill it, you broil it or you bake it, as opposed to fry it, it can be really healthy. It's got a lot of protein, very little fat, especially if you take the skin off."

He adds that protein doesn't always mean meat and suggests fish, beans and rice, and peanut butter as money-saving options.

The next trick, he says is to watch portion sizes. One serving of meat should be about the size of your palm, so what's packaged as one steak, might really be enough for two people.

"Cutting the portion sizes, a) it's healthier for you -- it's better for your belly -- but it's also better for your wallet," Legatt says.

He also suggests buying produce when it's in season locally, which makes it less expensive, and freezing it for future use. Click here to find links describing what's in season when in our area.

Finally, he suggests avoiding the temptation to spend money on unhealthy snacks, by avoiding the center aisles of the store, where most processed items are located.

He says, "A good rule of thumb is shop the perimeter of the store."

To find a Fresh Grocer near you, and to learn when they're offering healthy shopping store tours, click here.

To find out more about the 11th Street Family Health Services, click here.