Shopping to save money and eat healthy

Save money while shopping and still eat healthy.

February 17, 2012 - Author: Leatta Byrd, Michigan State University Extension

Savvy shopping and a little preparation will start you on your way to saving money and consuming less fat and fewer calories. Follow these steps to success:

  1. Establish food budget
  2. Plan weekly meals and snacks for your family
  3. Make a shopping list based on your eating plan for the week
  4. Shop the perimeter of the store
  5. Take time to read labels.


When you're on a tight food budget it's important that you avoid buying unnecessary items. Try keeping a running shopping list of food you need to purchase and food that you need to replace. Look for coupons, sales and store specials, and sign up for store discount cards.

Meal Planning

Planning meals before you shop will save you time, money, stress and help you to make quick and healthy meals. When you have a plan you can avoid the frustration of figuring out what to eat when you and your family are hungry because you’ll know in advance what meals you're going to prepare and what snacks you have on hand. Incorporate leftovers into your meal planning to save additional time and money.

Shopping List

A shopping list will help you stick to your budget. Your shopping will be faster and you will be less likely to buy on impulse. A shopping list tells you what foods you need to purchase so you can avoid wasting time at the supermarket figuring out what to buy or thinking about what foods you and your family would like to eat. To save even more money, consider buying produce that is in season, shopping at farmer’s markets, purchasing store brands instead of name brands, buying cheaper cuts of meat, and buying day old bread products.

Healthy Store Shopping

Shopping the perimeter of the grocery store generally takes you past the fresh, healthy and less processed foods. Fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, lean meats, poultry and fish, and whole grain breads tend to be placed around the outside perimeter of grocery stores. Fill your shopping cart with these nutritious foods and leave less room for junk foods and sugary drinks. Highly processed and packaged foods tend to be in inner aisles of the supermarket. These items are typically higher in fat, salt and sugar. Shop the inner aisles for specific food items such as spices, canned tomatoes and dry beans. Stick to your list and don’t let yourself be tempted by flashy packaging.

Label Reading

Read labels to get familiar with the ingredients list and Nutrition Facts panel on packaged foods. Use this resource to compare amounts of fat, sodium, calories and nutrients in similar products. Be an informed consumer and smart shopper with regular label reading. With a quick glance you can identify foods which contain high amounts of sugar and sodium like packaged mashed potato, canned vegetables and fruit, packaged pasta entrées, white bread and cereals.

Tags: food budgeting, msu extension, nutrition

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