4 Ways to Eat Healthy on a Budget

With dollar menus aplenty, feeding yourself cheaply is rather easy, but finding food that is both nutritious and inexpensive is a lot harder. According to a study published last year in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, researchers at the University of Washington found that at major supermarkets in the Seattle area between 2004 and 2006 the price of fruits and vegetables rose about 20 percent, while the cost of certain junk foods actually decreased. So if you're committed to healthy eating, here are a few tips to accomplish that without stretching your budget to its breaking point:

Shop in season. Most of the fruits and vegetables at your local supermarket have traveled an average of 1,500 miles. With the recent rise in fuel prices, that trip not only hurts the environment but your wallet as well. By tailoring your tastes to produce that is seasonally and locally in vogue, you'll reduce your carbon footprint and your grocery bill, as well as enjoy fresh and tasty food.

Invest a little to save a lot. Living healthier may require a bit more when it comes to time, effort, and money, but the payoff is huge. And if you play it smart, you can minimize the necessary investment on many fronts, each of which is entwined with the other. For example, you can save money by prepping your own produce or making your own juice. And by spending some cash on quality appliances-juicer, mandoline slicer, specialized peelers-you can turn these tedious chores into fun, easy activities that you're more likely to set aside time to do.

Grow your own. If you've got a yard, what are you waiting for? Start a garden. Pick a plot in your yard that gets a sufficient amount of sunlight (at least six hours a day), and if you're a first-timer, start small-a 10-foot-by-10-foot square is a great beginning. Head to a local nursery or home center (they'll advise on which fruits and vegetables thrive in your area) to get the supplies you'll need: plants, seeds, soil, hoe, rototiller, and more. And even if you don't have a yard, you can still grow carrots, lettuce, herbs, tomatoes, and peppers in containers on a patio or at a windowsill that gets lots of sunlight.

Buy frozen and canned fruits and vegetables. Many experts agree that the process of freezing and canning fruits and vegetables doesn't diminish the nutritional value of these foods. If you're concerned about taste, you can boost flavor by adding a variety of spices. Many recipes allow for the substitution of fresh vegetables with canned or frozen ones; in fact, by using canned tomatoes in a sauce or a soup, you can save as much as 70 cents per pound.