Shop Smart for Breads, Cereals, Rice and Pasta

You can cut the cost of breads, cereals, rice, pasta and other grains without cutting good nutrition. Look for whole grain products like brown rice, oatmeal, grits, tortillas and whole wheat bread. They are naturally high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Most white breads are enriched with vitamins and minerals. They are more nutritious than unenriched grain products. Specialty breads and rolls like pita bread, sweet rolls, or doughnuts may not be enriched. To get the most nutrition for your food dollar, check the wrapper to be sure.

Some cereals are fortified with even more vitamins and minerals than you would naturally get if you ate the grain. A cereal with 100% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of certain vitamins or minerals is called a "supplement" cereal. One of these cereals is the same as any other corn flakes or wheat flakes with a vitamin pill added. These types of cereals cost more than enriched or whole grain cereals. If you follow the Food Guide Pyramid, fortified cereals are an unnecessary expense.

To save money on breads and baked goods, look in the day old section of the supermarket. You can save up to half the cost of fresh bread, rolls or other baked products. These breads may not be as soft as fresh bread, but they have the same nutrients.

When you bake muffins, biscuits, cakes or cookies, it will often cost less than stored-baked products. Compare the cost of the ingredients for your favorite recipes with the price of equal amounts of similar bakery products. Then decide if it is worth it to make your own.

Instant hot cereals in individual servings may cost two to three times as much as the same cereals in larger boxes. These cereals often have more sodium and sugar than cereals you make yourself. You can heat many hot cereals in a microwave oven for the same amount of time it would take to make an "instant" cereal.

Instead of buying ready-made rice or pasta mixes, add your own seasonings and meat. If you like the way some of these mixes taste, you can get more value for your money by adding more pasta or rice than is in the box. Try cutting down on the amount of fat than the directions on the box say. This way you pay less but you get a more nutritious meal.

Adapted from: "Your Money's Worth in Foods," Human Nutrition Information Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Home and Garden Bulletin 183, September 1994.

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