By Eryn Carter on April 7, 2020

Grocery budget tips for feeding your family healthy meals

grocery budget

With new health trends hitting the market daily, you might feel like your can of green beans and 99 cent bananas aren’t cutting it. What used to be a simple message of “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” has now turned in to “organic, non-processed, fresh, all natural keeps the doctor away.” While these ideas aren’t wrong, they aren’t necessary for everyone, and trying to shop by this standard can be overwhelming and costly. Check out these seven tips to stretch your dollar and simplify shopping for healthful foods: 

Buy in Season  

Produce products are grown at different times of the year based on the growing conditions. Buying fruits and vegetables that are grown in the current season are typically less expensive than out of season. This website from the USDA is a great guide to which products are in season.

Buy in season produce


Contrary to the trend “fresh is best,” frozen and canned items are just as nutritionally beneficial as fresh produce and typically more cost effective. Buying in preserved form also allows for a longer shelf life, which can lead to less waste. Look for frozen and canned items with the produce item as the only ingredient. Try to buy items with no added sugars, sauces or sodium. 

woman looks at a jar of canned vegetables

Make a Plan  

Planning ahead is key in almost any goal to achieve better health, and grocery shopping is no exception. Plan your meals for the week with recipes that include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats. Take inventory of what you currently have on hand, then make your grocery list. Having specific items in mind before your grocery store trip will help eliminate the extra unnecessary items. 

Buy in Whole Form  

Convenience has become king, and almost every grocery item can now be found pre-cut, trimmed, diced or cooked. These items save time in the kitchen but come at a heftier cost than buying in whole form. Buying items that need a little extra prep work is a great way to save. 

Be Flexible with Recipe Ingredients  

Try getting creative with recipes. Swap out items you already have on hand that are comparable with what the recipe calls for. For example, if you are planning to make a casserole that calls for chicken breast, red bell pepper and quinoa but you already have chicken thighs, carrots and brown rice, these items on hand could easily replace the original recipe items, avoid unnecessary waste and save on your grocery trip. 

Don’t Be Fooled by the Label  

Companies have caught on quickly to food trends and utilize this in marketing strategies. Food items labeled, “all-natural,” “paleo,” “plant-based,” etc., can be higher priced and do not necessarily mean these items are healthy. Read ingredient and nutrition facts to judge a food item, not the marketing terms. 

woman reading nutrition label

Prioritize and Compromise  

Decide what is important for you and your family when it comes to higher-priced food items and compromise on the rest. If organic produce is a high priority, splurge on this and buy store brand shelf items. If high quality cuts of meat are most important, utilize frozen and canned goods for the rest of your needs.  

When buying any grocery item, the key is to be up to date with accurate nutrition information, choose what is important for you and your family, plan ahead and use a little strategy. When shopping smart, your dollar can be stretched further than purchasing the latest trends.  

  • Eryn Carter

    Eryn Carter

    Eryn is a Kansas raised Registered Dietitian who is passionate about food from farm to table. She believes nutrition begins at the root and values agriculture for aiding the public in having a well-balanced diet.