Tightening your belt doesn’t have to mean going hungry. It’s possible to eat well and save money at the same time.
Here are a few ways to trim your food budget while still serving wholesome, healthy meals to your family:
Make a plan. Each week, check your cabinets and grocery store ads. Combine foods you already have with sale or special items to plan a menu. Keep in mind that some products almost always give you a nutritious bang for your buck. These include dried beans, sweet potatoes, brown rice, and noninstant, whole-grain oatmeal. Write down each meal and a grocery list of foods you need to complete them.
Follow through. At the store, stick to your list. Stay at the outer edges—near the produce, meat, dairy, and bakery—and in the canned and frozen aisles. You’ll avoid being tempted by fancy displays or unhealthy, expensive processed foods. Read labels carefully to be sure you’re getting the lowest price per ounce. Consider store brands instead of brand names.
Shop in season. Buy fresh fruits and vegetables near the time when they are grown. Check farmers markets if they aren’t available at your grocery store. Only buy as much as you need. Or try frozen fruits and veggies. They’re just as healthy and often less expensive, especially outside growing season.
Get help if you need it. The USDA offers assistance programs for families in need. Visit the USDA website for details.
When you can’t cook, eat out smart. Share an entrée or take home your leftovers. Combine leftovers with fresh produce or pantry items for a whole new meal.