Healthy Grocery Shopping on a Budget

December 27, 2022

The grocery store can be a confusing and often overwhelming place with many different products. Each product is marketed as if it is the healthiest food on the shelf.  Many people get so caught up reading nutrition labels that they can forget how expensive some of these items can be.  Here are some tips how to buy healthy foods which won’t break the bank:




Shop the perimeter of the grocery store for most foods.

This is usually where all the fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy are stored. Many foods inside the aisles of the store are processed and usually cost more per serving. The food to choose inside the aisles would be dried beans, whole wheat pastas, high fiber cereals, whole grain breads and nuts.



Look on the top or the bottom shelves for the healthy foods.

Grocery stores usually make the most money off purchases eye level, so the healthy foods are slightly harder to find. Be sure to scan the entire aisle for the right products.



Make a list and stick to it.

Take a few minutes before you leave to house to take make a list of the items you need. A list makes it easier to focus on the foods needed to complete each meal.  Also, if you go to the grocery store hungry, it is very easy to deviate from a list, which usually results in extra grocery costs.



Shop at farmer’s markets or farm stands.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are a great find at these ever-popular shopping markets. Be sure to take advantage of these local hotspots because they are only open part of the year, and they offer produce that is fresh, in season and cost-effective. Frozen produce can be a good winter alternative as long as it doesn’t have added sugar or sauces.



Try to avoid pre-packaged items.

Although slightly easier to prepare, pre-packaged items are full of sodium and preservatives in addition to the higher ticket price. For instance, the cost of a serving of plain rice out of the bag is about $0.10, whereas the boxed rice is about $0.83 a serving. It is more economical to eat a plate of meat, potato, and vegetables made from scratch (about $1.30 a serving) than it is to buy a frozen dinner (about $2.50 a box on average).



Many people have the misconception that shopping for healthy items is too expensive. When stores have certain brands on sale, they usually offer the original item in addition to its healthier counterpart. Cutting coupons is still a great way to save your money too. Don’t forget that even the smallest savings can add up. Saving $10 a week can lead up to over $500 savings in food costs over one year. Happy shopping and happy saving!

The Author

Kim Kramer R.D., L.D.N., CDCES

I have been a dietitian for over 15 years and my passion is in outpatient wellness working with kids and adults to help change their eating habits. I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a dietitian, and I am enthusiastic about nutrition as it gives me joy to talk to others about healthy foods. I promote a healthy lifestyle and positive behavior changes. I have also been working in the field of diabetes for the last 7 years providing optimal diabetes management practices to those in need. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my kids, cooking, playing the piano and working out.

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