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Grocery shopping on a budget

Published on July 20, 2017

Grocery shopping on a budget

Alyssa Monson, Registered Dietitian
CentraCare Weight Management

Grocery shopping on a budgetHealthful eating can be difficult enough with the great variety of foods and food products out there. Add in a budget crunch and it can seem downright impossible. Keep reading for some ways to save on your grocery bill.

Peruse the ads

The foundation of any economical menu includes sales and specials. Use the foods that are on sale at your favorite store as the basis of your menu. Try to avoid purchasing foods just because they are on sale if you don’t have a plan to use them before they expire.

Plan, plan, plan

Once you have reviewed the sales ads, plan your menu. Make sure to include foods for breakfast, lunches and snacks as they fit into your plan or your family’s schedule.

Planning for leftovers also is helpful to save time (and money if you tend to get fast food or cafeteria food for lunches). Just increase the recipe to get the desired servings for leftovers. 

Make a list

Once you are done planning your menu make a list that includes only the foods and supplies you need for your menu. To save time at the store, make sure to include how much of each item you need. This way you can purchase only the amount you need if it is an item you don’t use often.

Before leaving for the store, make sure you ‘shop’ in your own home. Take any food items you already have off your shopping list.

Stick to your list

At the grocery store, do your best to only purchase what is on your list. If you can, go by yourself so that you aren’t getting requests for unnecessary items in the grocery store. To help you stick to your list, do not go to the store hungry.

Cost-effective foods

  • Eggs
    • Coming in at around $1.40 or less per dozen at most local grocery stores eggs are a great way to start the day, add protein to your lunch or as a quick afternoon snack (hardboiled).
    • Tip: Try adding an egg white or two to ¼ cup oatmeal and a splash of water and let soak in the refrigerator overnight. Microwave for one minute (or longer if egg white has not solidified) and add your favorite oatmeal toppings for a higher protein breakfast.
  • Chicken breasts (fresh, frozen, canned)
    • Varying between $2-5 per pound, watch for sales or consider purchasing at wholesale food clubs for the best prices.
    • Tip: Grill or cook chicken breast for the week to have in the refrigerator for quick meals or protein additions to your lunches.
  • Canned tuna
    • At around $3 per pound or about 70¢ per 4 oz. serving, canned tuna is a great option for those with limited refrigerator space or for an on-the-go protein.
    • Tip: Add light mayo (or Greek yogurt for more protein) and season to taste for a quick tuna salad.
  • Beans (canned or dry)
    • Beans are high in fiber and protein making them even more cost effective. At 62¢ to $1 per can or less than $1.50 per pound (dry), these are a great addition to any frugal pantry.  
    • Tip: To save time, prepare dry beans in bulk to store in the freezer for quick fiber and protein additions to your meals.
  • Frozen vegetable blends (preferably no sauces)
    • Coming in at less than $2 per pound, convenience isn’t the only reason to keep frozen vegetables in your freezer.
    • Tip: For a unique flavor, place larger frozen vegetables on the grill (or use a grill basket for smaller vegetables) and season to your liking.

Health information accessed through www.centracare.com is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. We strive to present reliable, up-to-date health information on our web site and “For the Health of It” blog. However, this information is not intended for the purpose of diagnosing or prescribing. Please contact your health care provider if you have any concerns or questions about specific content that may affect your health. Log in to MyChart to send a secure message to your provider.

About the Author

Alyssa Monson, RD

Alyssa Monson
Registered Dietitian
CentraCare Weight Management
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