Healthy Eating on a Budget
Plan your meals for the week.
Stews, casseroles, soups, and stir-fries can “stretch” expensive items into more portions.
Make a double or triple batch of your favorite meals ahead of time.
Freeze portions in individual containers.
Make a list before you shop and buy only what’s on the list.
You’ll be more likely to stick with healthy choices.
Eat a small, healthy snack before you shop so you are not hungry.
Offer the same to your kids. They will be less likely to ask for snacks with lots of fat and sugar at the store.
Start and stay mostly in the outside aisles of the store.
Fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, meats, and low-fat dairy, are usually located there. Spend very little time in the middle section of the store, where processed foods tend to be.
Choose fruits and vegetables that are in season.
They are often fresher and less expensive.
Find fruits and vegetables that are often low-cost all year, like beans, carrots, greens, apples, and bananas.
Buy food in its simplest, whole form and prepare it yourself.
Canned or frozen vegetables and fruits may be less expensive than fresh, but watch out for added sugar or salt. Pre-cut, pre- packaged, and processed foods usually cost more. Look for the best prices, especially on meat and seafood.
Look for specials and use coupons and store reward cards.
Compare “unit prices,” located on the shelf below the items, to find the best buy.
Buy in bulk.
Family packs of frozen meats, fish, and vegetables are more economical, as long as you have room in your freezer.
Save money with store brands.
They are often similar in quality to the name-brand products.
Make smart choices based on the ingredients. Limit foods with words you can’t pronounce or don’t know what they are. Be aware of serving size when reading labels.
You may be the only one in your household working on your health. That’s okay. The changes you are making can benefit those around you. Everyone will start to see the benefits.
(Sources: Adapted from ChooseMyPlate.gov)
What’s Cooking is for people who are on tight budgets or food assistance. You can pick recipes, compare costs, and make your own cookbook. In English and Spanish.
Choose My Plate: Healthy Eating on a Budget
Get help with grocery lists, weekly menu planning, food labels, and low-cost recipes as well as tips for saving time and cooking for your family. In English and Spanish.
Good and Cheap Cookbook
Leanne Brown is a food scholar and home cook. Her website has free tips and a free cookbook for people on very tight budgets, as well as tasty recipes with color photos and cost information.