It’s the food choices made over the long run—day-to-day, week-to-week—that add
up to good nutritional health. No one set of menus or recipes, whatever the cost, can
satisfy everyone, nor can you always eat as planned. Being flexible is part of making
healthy eating fit into your lifestyle and budget.
Before Going to the Store |
At the Grocery Store |
For Later at Home
- Eat something healthy. Don’t shop hungry.
- In the kitchen, make a list of meal ideas for the coming week. Keep in mind the
days you’ll have time to cook from scratch and the days you’ll be pressed for time.
Then, make a grocery list and stick to it.
- Review store ads, clip coupons, and organize them at home.
- Sign up for your grocer’s bonus/discount card for additional savings.
- Try store brands. The most costly brands are often placed at eye-level. Store
brands that may be cheaper and just as good are often placed higher or lower on
the grocery shelves.
- Look for the unit price to compare similar foods. It tells you the cost per ounce,
pound, or pint, so you’ll know which brand or size is the best buy. Most stores
show the unit price on a shelf sticker just below the product.
- Buy in-season fruits and vegetables. Use local farmers’ markets when possible—
the foods are fresher and tend to cost less.
- Purchase canned (in water or in their own juice, not heavy syrup) and frozen
fruits and vegetables. They’re healthy, too, and will last longer.
- Buy milk (fat-free or low-fat) in large containers (gallon or 1/2 gallon) that generally
cost less than milk in quart containers. Milk sold at "24-hour" convenience
stores usually costs more than that sold at supermarket food stores. (Non-fat dry
milk is the least expensive way to go.)
- The whole may be cheaper than the parts—buy a whole chicken and cut it into
pieces at home instead of buying pre-cut chicken (breasts, legs, and wings) that
may be more expensive.
- Stock up on sale items you can use in a timely manner. Buy in bulk for quality
and value, but serve healthy portions.
- Use your food budget wisely. For the price of a large bag of chips and a box of
cookies, you can buy a lot of apples, bananas, carrots, potatoes, peppers, and
other healthier foods.
- Assemble healthy snacks at home in small baggies using foods such as nuts and
seeds, low-fat cheese, and fresh veggies and fruits, rather than buying less
healthy and more expensive prepackaged and processed snacks,
- Do "batch cooking" when the food budget and time allow. Cook a large amount
of spaghetti sauce, divide it into family-size portions, and freeze them promptly for
meals later in the month.
- Take advantage of planned leftovers to cut preparation time and save food
dollars. For example, prepare a roast, serve half of it, and freeze the remaining half
to use later with vegetables for a quick soup or in other dishes.