Grocery Shopping on a Budget

May 24 8:22am | Tara Schmidt, RDN, LD | @taraschmidt

Written by Eric DeAngelis, Mayo Clinic dietetic intern

A common barrier brought up when people are asked about healthy eating is, “It’s just too expensive to buy all those healthy foods.” Next time you are heading to the grocery store try using these easy tips. You may find that preparing a healthy and delicious meal might not cost at much as you think it might!

  • Plan your meals, make a list, and don’t shop hungry – Going to the grocery store without knowing what you plan to buy is a common mistake many shoppers make. Not only is it more likely that you will spend more than planned, but you may find that many of the items you buy are processed snack foods high in saturated fat and sodium. Having a list of ingredients will help keep the grocery bill down.
  • Look for sales – Considering the previous tip, planning ahead and making a shopping list to follow is a great strategy that can be helpful to avoid impulse buys at the store. However, a smart shopper is always on the lookout for sales and bargains as well. For example, it might make sense to switch dinner from beef to chicken if chicken is on sale; so stick to the plan, but also be reasonably flexible!
  • Buy in bulk – As a general rule of thumb the larger the portion you buy of a single item the cheaper it becomes. Many stores have bulk bins for things like grains, nuts, and seeds.  If the item is non-perishable or can be safely frozen, you can save big by buying in bulk.
  • Don’t worry about buying organic – While there is nothing wrong with buying organic produce and meat, it is much more expensive than non-organic equivalents. Research has shown there is no difference in the nutritional value of organic foods when compared to non-organic foods.
  • Don’t ignore the freezer section – When you are on a tight budget the last thing you want to happen is have your groceries spoil before you can eat them. Perishable foods such as meat, fruits, and vegetables that are frozen are a great option if you find that you are throwing out more food than you are eating. The nutritional quality remains the same!
  • Visit the local farmers market – In the summer you can find locally grown, delicious, and nutritious fruit and vegetables at farmers markets for great prices. Be sure to take advantage of these deals when you can! You can also leave happy, knowing you supported someone in your community.
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