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How to Go Sugar-Free on a Budget

Beating a sugar addiction can be expensive. In general, whole food is more expensive than packaged convenience foods, and organic food costs more than industrial food products. The popularity of clean organic food is bringing the price down over time, but at present, sugar and chemicals are unfortunately still cheaper than quality food. You can take some steps, however, to make sugar-free or low-sugar nutrition more affordable.

How to stretch your grocery dollars for sugar-free eating

If you find yourself on a very tight food budget, here are some tips to get the most for your money without resorting to junk food:

  • Check local newspapers, grocery websites, coupon sites, and in-store specials and coupons. Ask about a loyalty card for extra savings at stores where you shop. Meat and seafood are often the most expensive items on your list, so when you find a good deal, buy extra and stock the freezer.

  • Other than items you can freeze, don’t buy too much food at one time. Produce and fresh meat only keep for a few days in the refrigerator, so don’t buy more than you can use in the next two or three days.

  • Don’t shop when you’re hungry! Stick to your list, and try to be at the grocery store when you’re not too rushed so you can make smart decisions.

  • Check the “sell by” dates and be sure that you pick the freshest option. Grocery stores don’t always rotate stock reliably.

  • Instead of deciding on a meal and then buying the ingredients for it, try reversing the process and seeing what healthy meals you can invent using what you already have in the house.

  • Stretch expensive meats into more portions by using them in meals like stews, casseroles, and stir-fry.

  • Buy produce locally in season — it’s not only less expensive but also fresher and a better environmental choice.

Know when to buy organic to beat sugar addiction

It’s a good idea to buy organic food whenever possible. Not being exposed to pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, and genetically modified plants is totally worth the extra money. Plus, it’s important for society as a whole to support farmers who use chemical-free, environmentally responsible methods.

Understandably, not everyone is willing or able to commit to organic food full time. Sometimes your food budget may require that you buy less-expensive conventional produce instead of organic foods. If that’s the case, don’t worry — the benefits of a diet that’s high in vegetables and fruits outweigh the risks from pesticide use and genetically modified food.

If you have to prioritize, go with organic when you buy foods that have been shown to accumulate high concentrations of pesticides — affectionately known as the dirty dozen. Conversely, you can feel okay about buying the conventionally grown produce on the clean 15 list because it’s typically less contaminated.

Dirty Dozen: Buy Organic Clean 15: Conventionally Grown Is Okay
Apples Asparagus
Bell peppers Avocado
Blueberries Cabbage
Celery Corn (non-GMO)
Cucumbers Domestic cantaloupe
Grapes Eggplant
Lettuce Grapefruit
Nectarines Kiwi
Peaches Mango
Potatoes Mushrooms
Spinach Onions
Strawberries Pineapple
Sweet peas
Sweet potatoes
Watermelon

Rinse your produce! Rinsing reduces but doesn’t eliminate pesticides. You can use a vegetable wash to help remove even more chemicals. Consider leaving the skin on, because peeling removes valuable nutrients along with the skin.

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