By: Paige Whitmire, RD, LDN

Part two of our “Eating Healthy on a Budget” series highlights grains…specifically whole grains.  Whole grains contain fiber, vitamins, and minerals that may reduce our risk of chronic lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Accordingly, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends at least half our grains be whole grains.

Although grains are typically a low-cost food group, whole grains can be a little more expensive. Here are some ways to stretch your whole grain’s dollar.

Buy from the self-serve “Bulk Foods” aisle. Most people think only candy is available in this section, but other foods such as grains, baking ingredients, dried fruit and nuts are also available.  Oats, rice, farro and quinoa’s price per pound is typically lower and because it’s self-serve, you can take the exact amount you need.

Price Check! Quinoa costs as little as $4.99 per pound in bulk versus prepackaged quinoa, which can cost up to $8.60 per pound.

Take advantage of sales. When whole grain bread, bagels or English muffins are on sale, buy them. You can freeze them and maintain the quality for up to 3 months.

Stock up on staples. Brown rice, oats, and whole grain pasta are cheap and can last up to 6 months in the pantry in an airtight container and up to 12 months in the refrigerator.

Buy generic. Store brands are typically the same quality product for a cheaper price.

Price Check! Wheat Thins can cost as much as $3.19 for a 9oz box versus a store brand whole grain cracker, which can cost as little as $1.99 for a 9oz box.

Use low cost whole grains for snacks. Healthy whole grain snack options include homemade granola or homemade trail mix, brown rice and beans, and powdered peanut butter on whole grain toast.

Although whole grains often cost more than white products, their health benefits far outweigh the price. For example, purchasing a whole grain loaf of bread every week for a year will cost up to $78.00 more than buying a loaf of white. Consider it an investment in your health. In addition to the lifestyle challenges associated with the development of Type 2 Diabetes, you could spend up to $750.00 per year on medications to treat the disease.

With a little planning and effort, whole grains are affordable and improve your health. Read tomorrow’s RD Kitchen post highlighting oats for more creative uses!

All of the information in this article is based on research performed by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.