Eating right when money is tight

Making healthy food choices on a budget can sometimes feel like a challenge. By following a few guidelines you can eat better and stretch your dollars. The best way to accomplish this goal is to develop a healthy eating plan and that begins with shopping smarter. Here are some tips from SNAP-Ed on how to stretch your food dollars by planning ahead and making smart food choices.

BEFORE Shopping

-Plan your weekly meals and snacks. Before you even go to the store scribble down what’s already in the fridge, freezer and cupboards. Get an idea of what you already have and what you can use to form your planned meals. Need recipe ideas? Check out our SNAP app!

-Know how much money you have to spend on food. Make a shopping list based on the money you have to spend and what foods you will need.

DURING Shopping

-Have something to eat before you go shopping. It’s easier to stick to your shopping list when you are not hungry.
-Stick to the perimeter. Most foods for a health- and cost-conscious eating plan are found by shopping the supermarket’s boundary. Then, with your shopping list in tow, visit just the aisles you need to balance fresh selections. This will keep you from adding unnecessary items to your cart.

-Pick the produce. Choose a variety of in-season whole fresh fruits and vegetables. They’ll be most abundant, most nutritious and least expensive. Alternatively, pick by sports seasons — enjoy citrus fruits and sweet potatoes during football season; buy berries and tomatoes during baseball season.

-Try store brands. They are the same quality and cost less.

-Compare products for the best deal. Use unit pricing and also the Nutrition Facts labels to get the best product for your money. For more info on food labels.

-Check “sell by” or “use by” dates. Buy the freshest food possible. Buy only the amount of food you can use before it spoils. Remember, frozen, canned, or shelf-stable foods last longer!

AFTER Shopping

-Store food right away in the refrigerator or freezer to keep it fresh and safe.
-If you buy a large amount of fresh food, like meat, poultry, or fish, divide it into meal-size packages, label the food, and freeze it for later use.
-Use foods with the earliest expiration dates first.
-Stick to your planned meals and use the food that you bought.

It can take time adjusting to a new plan, so be patient with yourself as you figure out what works best for you and your family!


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