Many people think the concepts of getting healthy and saving money are in conflict.

Healthy food often has a reputation for being overpriced and less than filling. But the savvy shopper can buy healthy and leave the grocer's with a fatter wallet.  Here are five ways to keep your menu healthy and budget-friendly:

1. Pick Your Protein

Lean proteins such as chicken and turkey tend to be cheaper than high fat alternatives such as beef and lamb. According to, a grocery delivery web site for Stop and Shop and Giant, ground turkey runs about $2.50 per pound while ground beef will cost $4.50 per pound. When used in meals like chili or meat sauces, the flavors are nearly indistinguishable but the calorie counts aren’t. Ground turkey is 170 calories per serving while ground beef is 293. For any of your favorite proteins, wait for a sale and buy in bulk. Place appropriate portions in plastic bags and freeze until you are ready to use them. Opting for boneless, skinless chicken breasts and pre-flavored turkey sausages are perfect ways to save.

2. Make Your Own Frozen Dinners

Shelling out four dollars apiece for health-conscious TV dinners will leave most dieters searching for snacks an hour later and wondering why their grocery bills are so high. Instead of buying frozen dinners, make your own. Crock-pot recipes for chilis and stews are easy to make in bulk, then separate into individual portions for the freezer. That way, you control the portion and the calorie count while saving money on quick, healthy dinners on nights when there is just no time to cook.

3. Add More Vegetables

Vegetables are generally cheaper than meat so try going vegetarian a few meals a month. Hearty vegetables like eggplant and squash make a healthy and filling centerpiece for any meal. Thick eggplant slices can be grilled exactly like steak and the wide variety of squashes are perfect for thick soups or even ravioli filling.

4. The Secret to Saving on Sauces

Head to a local bulk store and pick up a variety of glass jars and start making your own sauces, salsas and dips. A large can of stewed tomatoes mixed with fresh garlic, onions and peppers will make four times as much pasta sauce for the same price as any of the prepared brand names. Also, look for yogurt-based dips like tzatziki to take the edge off the craving for creamy instead of giving into that tub of French onion dip. Taking one free afternoon to create your own stock of sauces will lighten the load on your wallet and your hips.

5. Eating Less, Weighing and Paying Less

Portion control is a big problem for many Americans, but it’s often the key to both weight loss and successful food budgeting. At home, don’t serve yourself mounds of food and don’t go back for… thirds. At restaurants, split one meal and one appetizer with a friend or have the waiter wrap up half the meal at the beginning of dinner instead of letting it sit on your plate after you're done. Bring the other half to work for lunch the following day.

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