As the cost of groceries continues to skyrocket shoppers are often caught between buying what is healthy and purchasing what is affordable.

 As the cost of groceries continues to skyrocket shoppers are often caught between buying what is healthy and purchasing what is affordable. People complain that it costs more to eat nutritious food, but in my mind, it is all about the choices you make. If you intend to buy all organic, or food that is out of season, you most certainly are going to pay more. However, there are staple items that you can purchase at reasonable rates. All kids love three dollar cereal that is loaded with sugar, but the better option is oatmeal. Oatmeal is inexpensive, heart healthy, and when you consider that you are only eating a half cup at a time, one container should last for at least a month or longer. There are numerous items you can add to oatmeal to improve the flavor, the options are endless. Additives like peanut butter, dried fruit, coconut, nuts, brown sugar, or maple syrup can all alter the taste. Another suggestion is pancakes. One can make pancakes at home from scratch just as cheaply as you can buy them frozen. You can even make your own and freeze them to take out as needed. I know what you are thinking…who has time for oatmeal and pancakes?? You will have to make time if you want to save money, just get up earlier to eat. Meat can be very costly. We are lucky that we live in a rural area. Many families rely on venison, other game, and fish to make ends meet. If you are without resources to acquire those things, then my suggestion would be to buy ground turkey and family size packages of chicken. Frozen fish can also be inexpensive depending on what kind you buy. If you are looking to stay within a budget, you won’t be buying steak or salmon anytime soon. Fresh produce can break the budget. When a pint of blueberries or raspberries can be over four dollars and you have a lot of mouths to feed, it doesn’t make sense to buy them. You can however, buy bananas and frozen family size bags of fruits and vegetables at a bargain. It is cheaper to buy a huge bag of frozen broccoli then to buy it fresh. Other cheap side dishes include pasta and rice. You can never go wrong with the health benefits of brown rice. What about dessert? Cookies, cakes, and pies are either very expensive, or they have a shelf life that out-lives cockroaches. If you cannot pronounce the ingredients in a snack cake, you don’t need to eat it. Always keep flour, sugar, milk, eggs, and vanilla on hand and you can make your own treats homemade from scratch for less. You can freeze the leftovers and eat them later. Mini pumpkin bread and banana bread sure beat a store bought Danish with a two year expiration date. As an added bonus, homemade items do not have chemicals and preservatives. When I hired a nutritionist/body builder last year, he really opened my eyes to not only portion control and food selection, but also the healing properties of food. Macaroni and cheese and hot dogs may be cheap, but your health and waistline will pay in the end if that is what you are consuming. I eat four to six times a day, but I get paid twice a month. When I go grocery shopping, it is a game to me to see how much I can buy for $150 or less. Yes, I clip coupons, I also comparison shop. I am currently eating a body builder’s diet. My meals consist of lean protein like turkey, chicken, or fish, a slow digesting carb like oatmeal, sweet potato, or brown rice, along with some sort of steamed vegetable. Right now I can have one fresh fruit a day and also Jello, yogurt, or pudding for dessert. Yes, it is expensive to buy groceries, but if you do not indulge in soda, chips, and other junk food, your money will go further. It’s all about choices and sacrifice.