Shopping Smart for Healthy Eating on a Budget


Shopping Smart for Healthy Eating on a Budget
The Positive Pulse
With Laura Vollink, RD LD, Chartwells Dietitian
Shopping Smart for Healthy Eating on a Budget
We’ve all heard not to shop for groceries on an empty stomach, right?
But what else can we do to make sure we are shopping healthy and
shopping smart? Check out these tips to make sure you’re getting
the healthiest bang for your buck:
• Make a plan. Plan your meals for the week. Think about all of the
foods you will need for the next 1-2 weeks so you don’t have to
make little trips back to the store.
• Make a list to avoid impulse buying. A sure way to overspend is
by wandering aimlessly through the aisles and tossing whatever
looks good into your cart. If you are familiar with your grocery
store you can even correspond your list with aisles to keep you
on track.
• Clip or print coupons. Sunday inserts in your local paper have
anywhere from $50-75 worth of coupons in them. Look for deals
in ads, online, and consider joining your supermarket’s shopper’s
club if they have one. (But don’t buy foods you don’t need just
because you have a coupon!)
• Buy store brands. Store brands, or private labels, are often 15 to 20% less expensive than their national
brand counterparts while the quality of food is similar.
• Buy in bulk. If you are buying for a big family, it is almost always cheaper to buy foods in bulk. You can
split the cost of a membership and food between roommates, friends, or family. A few things to
consider when buying in bulk include your amount of storage space and how quickly you go through
• Check the unit price. One of the best ways to make sure that you are getting the best possible deal on
an item is by checking the unit price. Locate the ‘unit price’ on the shelf tag directly below the product.
Use the ‘unit price’ (price per pound, ounce, etc.) to compare different brands and different sizes of the
same brand to determine which is more economical.
• Eat seasonally. Buying fruits and vegetables in season can lower the cost and add to freshness. Plan
your home menu around seasonally available foods and look for sales in your grocery’s produce
• Stretch your entrées. Include meals like stews, casseroles, and stir fries which stretch expensive items
into more portions (adding more rice and noodles into a dish are cheaper than adding meat!). For
example, if you are making chili, add half of the meat but double the beans.
• Buy discounted meat. Grocery stores often discount meats by up to 70% as they approach the
expiration date. If you are going to use the meat immediately or freeze for a later use, this is a great
• Choose whole foods. It may seem like whole foods like fresh chicken, vegetables, and grains are more
expensive but creating a meal for scratch may actually cost you less than purchasing a pre-prepared
dish. The more work that goes in to creating a product, the more you are paying for the convenience of
it as a consumer!