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  1. Instead of artificial sweeteners, keep honey in your pantry.    Why? Both are just pennies per teaspoon. But along with being a delicious sweetener, honey contains minerals, amino acids and vitamins, and it is free of the chemicals that make up artificial sweeteners. Studies have linked honey to benefits such as lowered cholesterol and improved memory. Also, honey has a strong flavor, so a little goes a long way.  
  2. Instead of prepackaged onion dip, have jarred salsa on hand.    Why? These items cost about the same, but a ¼-cup serving of salsa has just 20 calories, no fat and a serving of vegetables; the same amount of dip contains 120 calories, 10 grams of fat and additives such as monosodium glutamate.  
  3. Instead of reduced-fat peanut butter, keep a jar of natural peanut butter in your pantry.    Why? To lower the fat, manufacturers use fewer peanuts, replacing them with additives, like corn syrup solids. And although a serving of natural peanut butter has 4 more grams of fat than the reduced-fat spread, it's heart-healthy monounsaturated fat instead of the empty calories offered by corn syrup. The cost is roughly the same, so stick with the good stuff.  
  4. Instead of bottled salad dressings, keep olive oil and some spices on hand.   
  5. Instead of canned albacore tuna (solid white), buy canned chunk light tuna.    Why? Both types are versatile sources of lean protein, but albacore has almost three times the amount of mercury as chunk light, which comes from a smaller fish. Plus, you can get chunk light for about half the price.   Tip: Be sure to avoid cans marked gourmet or tonno. Although they're considered a type of light tuna, they contain yellowfin tuna, which can have levels of mercury comparable to albacore's.  
  6. Instead of boxed-rice side dishes, keep brown rice and spices on hand.    Why? Packaged rice mixes make only the dish advertised, are more expensive than brown rice (about $1.75 per box, with three or four servings) and are often high in sodium. At approximately 11 cents per serving, plain brown rice is cheap and healthful. Season it with soy sauce, ginger and garlic for an Asian flavor, or mix in sautéed onion, bell peppers and canned diced tomatoes for a side with a Spanish twist.  
  7. Instead of flavored instant oatmeal, keep quick-cooking oats in your pantry.   Why? Oatmeal packets are convenient, but a box of quick-cooking rolled oats is cheaper and far more versatile. Flavored instant oatmeal costs about 44 cents per serving, while a bowl of quick-cooking oats clocks in around 14 cents. Plus, you can use the oats in baked goods or to stretch recipes such as meat loaf. And quick-cooking oats are ready in about 5 minutes.  
  8. Nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, helps families find healthy, creative solutions for their food struggles. Plus, healthy dinner ideas and smart tips to stay active with your family!
  9. Sugar goes by many names, which can make it hard to spot on ingredients lists. Luckily, there's a simple strategy that requires no counting of grams or calories: Look at the ingredients list on all packaged foods. If it puts any form of sugar in the first three ingredients, pass on it.  
  10. These foods are frequent offenders when it comes to added sweeteners. Look for low-sugar versions or make them rare treats—or in the case of sugary drinks, simply avoid them.   Drinks: Soda, fruit-flavored juices, sports drinks, coffee creamer   Breakfast foods: Cereals, frozen French toast, muffins and waffles   Fruit: Canned or frozen   Desserts: Candy, cookies, cakes, pies, graham crackers, ice cream  
  11. Some of the sugar you're eating comes in places you don't even notice, like breads and condiments. Swap in low-sugar options with these rules of thumb.   Swap 1: Kick the can. Beverages are the No. 1 source of added sugar. Make an effort to cut out soda and other sweet sips, leaving more room for treats you really crave. Try unsweetened iced tea in place of soda, for example.  
  12. Try these strategies to tweak the amount of sugar your children eat—without causing a mutiny.   • Put them to work. Involve children with shopping and prep. According to a recent study in the journal Public Health Nutrition, the more that kids help in the kitchen, the more likely they are to choose healthy foods.   • Have fun. Get them excited and model good behavior: Parents' enthusiasm is contagious. Consider making an award sheet on the fridge, handing out a star every time the kids try a new, healthy food.