Simple Tips for Healthier, Low-Cost Grocery Shopping

written by Aaron Strock, dietetic technician

Buy in bulk. When possible, consider buying food items in bulk. Bulk items usually have a cheaper unit price than items in individual packaging. This will help stretch your dollar and get you more food for less money overall. Always make sure that you are able eat the food before it goes bad. See the last tip for an idea on how to avoid food waste.

Buy fruits and vegetables that are in-season. Fruits and vegetables are a very important part of a healthy diet, as they are packed full of many essential vitamins and minerals. One of the best ways to buy quality produce — while saving money — is to buy produce that is in-season. It is often cheaper and it tastes better! You can also buy canned or frozen fruits and vegetables, as these are often cheaper than fresh produce that is out-of-season. When buying canned or frozen produce always be sure to get the low-sodium and no-sugar-added options.

Try plant-based proteins. Meat and poultry products can be the most expensive items in your shopping cart. To save money, while still getting important nutrition, you can try filling your cart with more plant-based protein sources like tofu, quinoa, chickpeas, beans, peas, and whole-grain rice. When eating plant-based proteins, it is important to eat a variety of them throughout the day in order to get all of their benefits. 

Spend your food dollars wisely. Snack foods like soda, cookies, chips, and others are tasty and often inexpensive, but they do not contain many nutrients and your body is not getting what it needs from these foods. Snack foods should be treated as an occasional treat, instead of a staple in your diet. When looking to shop healthy and on a budget, it is better to spend the money you would normally spend on snack foods on things like fresh, frozen, or canned fruits and vegetables instead. These items can fit your budget and have significantly more nutrients.

Buy store-brand. Name-brand foods may have catchy slogans or fun characters connected to them, but that is why they often cost more; name-brand foods charge you extra for their brand name. Store-brand foods are often the exact same product, just in different packaging and with a cheaper price tag.

Practice FIFO food storage. FIFO stands for “First In, First Out”, and it is an easy tool for keeping your perishable foods from going to waste. All you have to do is make sure that foods with the closest expiration dates are placed at the front of your refrigerator and pantry. Having these items at the front will encourage you to use them first and will help minimize the risk of them going bad.

Always talk to your doctor and/or a dietitian about changes you plan to make to your diet. This is especially true if you are living with multiple illnesses, since not all foods are right for everyone. To talk to the dietitian where your meals are made, call 303.407.9439.