Weekly grocery shopping may just seem like a routine that we all do.
However, it is more than a routine when trying to eat healthy and stay on a budget.
As the economic squeeze continues, many Americans remain concerned that the cost of a healthy diet is out of reach.
However, according to an Agriculture Department study, the cost of eating healthy hasn't changed as much as many less-healthy alternatives. Eating healthy food while on a budget does require smart shopping.
Farm Bureau's Food Check-Out Week, Feb. 20-26, provides awareness about stretching grocery dollars with healthy, nutritious food. America's farmers and ranchers are committed to producing safe, healthy and abundant food.
And they share a common concern with consumers when it comes to putting nutritious meals on the table while sticking to a tight budget. Utilizing a food budget, planning balanced meals, making a list and sticking to it are just a few tips.
The good news: A recent USDA report favorably supports the economics of healthier eating.
Recent food price data show that prices for unprepared, readily available fresh fruits and vegetables have remained stable relative to dessert and snack foods, such as chips, ice cream and cola.
Therefore, as defined by foods in the study, the price of a "healthier" diet has not changed compared to an "unhealthy" diet.
"Fruits and vegetables -- along with whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, fish, beans, eggs and nuts -- are an important part of a healthy diet," said Beth Evans, Putnam County Farm Bureau Woman's leader. "Buying fresh produce when it's in season and costs less, while buying frozen fruits and vegetables when they're not in season, is a smart way to stretch that dollar."
Farm Bureau has developed Food Check-Out Week educational materials dedicated to helping consumers make healthier food purchases.
Information on several topics including "Tips for Better Nutrition on a Tight Budget," "Understanding Food Labels" and "Understanding What MyPyramid Means" is available at the local Putnam County Farm Bureau office.
As we learn more about how agriculture touches our lives daily, we can learn how to spend our money more efficiently on products.
Now in its thirteenth year, Food Check-Out Week also highlights America's safe, abundant and affordable food supply, made possible largely by America's productive farmers and ranchers.
According to the most recent (2009) information from the USDA's Economic Research Service, American families and individuals spend, on average, less than 10 percent of their disposable personal income for food.
For more information, call 720-0011.