healthy eating on a budget

The USDA has launched a program entitled “Healthy Eating on a Budget.” It’s an addition to the ChooseMyPlate.gov website, which focuses on the recommended daily nutrition values of the food groups important to a healthy diet.

Americans want more information on healthy eating with limited budgets, says the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, which developed the guide. The Healthy Eating on a Budget program includes tips on meal planning, grocery shopping and time- and money-saving food preparation tips.

“Although healthy foods aren’t always more expensive, many low-income people face time and resource challenges when it comes to putting healthy food on the table,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.

Once on the site, users can access sample menus and grocery lists. A cursory look at some of the “healthy” menu suggestions reveals some less than healthy suggestions, though. Recommendations include margarine, Ranch salad dressing, “pancake syrup” and “white bread rolls.”

“Promoting nutritious food choices can have a positive impact on improving the health and diet quality of Americans. USDA offers a broad spectrum of strategies to empower low-income families to purchase healthier foods,” said Vilsack.

Among the money-saving tips, the USDA program suggests consumers eat before they shop to reduce impulse purchases, use store sale flyers, coupon and loyalty programs, and shop private label store brands. “Stores often stock the priciest items at eye level,” the website also suggests. “You can save big by looking at the upper and lower shelves too.” Other money-saving tips include suggestions on how to use unit pricing, which is often found on the bar codes on shelves and reading food labels to compare items for value and cost.

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