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How to Eat Right When Money’s Tight


Grocery bills are probably one of your largest household expenses. Unlike some of your other expenses, food costs are variable and you easily lower them.

Here are 10 quick and easy tips to lower grocery costs while eating healthy:

    • Compare and Contrast – Locate the “Unit Price” on the shelf directly below the product. Use it to compare different brands and different sizes of the same brand to determine which is more economical.
    • Go Easy on Your Wallet – Certain foods are typically low-cost options all year round. Try beans for a less expensive protein food. For vegetables, buy carrots, greens, or potatoes. Apples and bananas are good choices for fruits.
    • Check Weekly Ads from the Grocery Store – Check advertised specials in local newspapers and online for the best buys.

Budget Shopping

  • Use a Shopping List to Save Time and Money – Plan ahead for meals you will prepare next week. Check recipes ahead of time, along with your refrigerator and cabinets, to see if you have all the ingredients. If not, add those foods to your weekly grocery list.
  • Shop with a Full Stomach – When food shopping, make sure you have eaten a meal before going to the supermarket. Also, make sure you have a shopping list so you buy what you need, NOT what catches your eye. Using a list saves both time and money.
  • Spice Up Your Meals – Flavor foods with herbs and spices, not with fats and oils or salt. Choose recipes that use very little salt, sugar, or fat for flavoring. Instead, try cooking with a variety of herbs like basil, oregano, marjoram, and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and curry. Tasty foods make you feel satisfied and help you to enjoy a meal.
  • How Much Stock Is In Your Pantry? – Buying too much food can result in items being thrown out because of expired dates, bugs, or other reasons. Use what you buy and don’t overstock those shelves. Too much of any food gets boring. Variety in food intake keeps us healthier.
  • Your Freezer Is Your Best Friend – Serve meals that provide your family with healthy foods in a short amount of time and that are easy to prepare. Use your freezer to store meal items cooked in advance, as well newly purchased frozen foods. The more preparation you do, the less the cost and the more control you have over the calories, fat, salt, and sugar levels of foods.
  • Menus: Do You Plan Ahead for Meals at Home? – Menus are not just for restaurants. Menus set up a plan for eating the following week and determine what’s on your shopping list. Menus keep meals organized and help fit purchases into your food budget. You will save money and avoid last minute quick food purchases like pizza or burgers because you “don’t have time to cook tonight.”
  • Buy in Bulk – It is almost always cheaper to buy foods in bulk. Before you shop, remember to check if you have enough freezer space.

Healthy Recipes

Not sure what to cook? The library has 100s of books on how to create healthy meals.

Ask a reference librarian for help finding the ones that suit your palette.

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