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Thrifty tips for healthy eating in the winter

The spring, summer and early fall are easy times for maintaining a healthy diet: the weather is pleasant and summer fruits and vegetables are ripening (and more affordable). It can be difficult to maintain a healthy diet through the winter, especially when the cost of fresh produce goes up. Fortunately, maintaining healthy eating habits doesn’t have to break the bank.
Stock up on frozen goods Reality check: apples in the produce section may be frozen for up to 10 months before they finally make it to the store. This practice also applies to certain other fruits and vegetables, so families aren’t necessarily getting legitimately fresh foods whenever they stop by the produce section. Since fresh produce is often frozen, stored and later shipped to the store, why not skip the high prices of the produce section and stock up on fruits and vegetables out of the freezer aisles instead? Frozen produce still provides a family with the same nutrients as ‘fresh’ produce but costs less. This is great for saving money and there’s no reason to feel guilty about not purchasing ‘fresh’ produce.
Seasonal It’s common knowledge that produce becomes more affordable as it comes into season, usually during the summer is when many produce items peak. However, there are fruits and vegetables that come into season in the fall and winter months of the year. By rotating a menu around in-season fruits, the frugal buyer can save money and continue to eat healthy while on a budget. Look for regional buying guides to see what produce is in season during the colder months of the year, then look up recipes for these items. Potential winter or in-season produce often includes cauliflower, grapefruit, carrots, lemons, Brussels sprouts, beets, winter squash and kiwi.
Hot and healthy foods Aside from fruits and vegetables, there are several hot and healthy meals that can be both healthy and satisfying during the winter months. Meals that include soups or chili are a perfect example, as both can be extremely healthy and include vegetables and lean meats. When making either soup or chili, avoid using excessive salt. Instead, opt for powder forms of favorite seasonings such as garlic powder rather than garlic salt. When making either of these items, consider buying in bulk and making a large batch at once. This allows the frugal shopper to save money by buying in bulk, but also saving time because half the meal can be frozen and saved for use at a later date. Other hot and healthy meals can include whole grain oatmeal, whole wheat pasta casseroles with lean meats such as chicken and vegetables such as broccoli as well as various soups: chicken noodle, vegetable stew or tomato soup; all of which can be cooked in bulk and frozen for later use.
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive, nor does it have to be made entirely out of items from the produce aisle. Keeping an eye on sales and stocking up on items like frozen goods can help save money and keep everyone on the go.
About the Author: Patty Kleen is a full-time writer specializing in healthy living and saving money. She also writes about personal finance and insurance. 


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