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.
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
- Review store ads, clip coupons, and organize them at home.
- Sign up for your grocer’s bonus/discount card for
- 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.