Melissa Halas
I’m Melissa Halas, Founder, Registered Dietitian, and mom, inspiring healthy living that’s easy, tasty, and fun!

Food Shopping on a Budget

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Food Shopping on a Budget

These savvy shopping tips will help with your food shopping budget without compromising quality, taste, or nutritional value for the kids.

Eating healthy food doesn’t have to be expensive! While it may be a time-saver, resist the appeal of convenience and try these tactics instead. There are many different ways to save money, so choose one of these budget tips to get started. Once you feel like you’ve mastered one, try another!

Turn your focus to plant-based proteins.

Fill the kids’ plates with a variety of vegetables and plant-based protein from tofu, beans, whole grains or nuts, and use animal-based proteins as the accent. Buying more plant-based proteins instead of meats saves you money and have many health benefits.

Buy foods whole.

Whole and unprepared foods tend to be more affordable than their conveniently packaged counterparts (like chopped carrots or peeled oranges). Buy whole fruits, vegetables, and even blocks of cheese, and prep them up yourself at home. You’ll be surprised what you could make for under $60 for a family of five in 7 days!

Try making your own grab n’ go snack bags! Once you prep your fruits and veggies, create your own snack bags with combinations of your family’s favorite fruits and vegetables.

Browse the bulk bins for staples.

Buying food in bulk is usually cheaper than pre-packaged goods. You can easily stock up on staples such as beans, lentils, grains, oatmeal, dried fruits, and nuts. Buying in bulk also creates less packaging waste, so it’s more eco-friendly! Store your bulk items in airtight containers until it’s time to dish them out.

TIP: A quick and easy trail mix can be made by mixing nuts (walnuts pack an extra heart-healthy punch!), seeds, dried fruit, and oats from the bulk bins. The possibilities are endless. Here’s an example of a simple and cost-friendly trail mix idea:

  • 1 lb. of dry-roasted & unsalted almonds ($4.99 at Whole Foods)
  • 1 lb. of organic currants ($4.39 at Whole Foods)
  • 1 lb. of organic sunflower seeds ($4.89 at Whole Foods)

Shop seasonally.

Look for fruits and veggies that are in season and keep your eye out for sales at the supermarket. Seasonal foods are usually more wallet-friendly. Find a local farmer’s market and visit it at least once a season to get an idea of what’s being grown nearby. You can also use this as a time to compare prices between the farmer’s market and the grocery store.

Be a critical consumer.

Keep in mind that item placement in grocery stores is intentional and a tactic that food companies use to get you to buy their products. You’ve likely heard to shop in the perimeter of the grocery store, which is one way to stay focused and avoid the influence of certain processed foods. The more aware of food marketing you become, the more you can build up your willpower to avoid any unnecessary spontaneous purchases.

Plant some seeds.

Starting a garden isn’t always practical, but it’s easy to grow your own windowsill herbs. Purchasing fresh herbs can be expensive, so growing your own will save you money and can be a fun family project!

If you have the extra space and motivation, test out your green thumb on some leafy greens or vegetables! Zucchini and tomatoes are great plants to start with – you can even grow them in pots on your porch!

Seek out store-brand savings.

Opt for “generic” store brand items rather than their more expensive name-brand counterparts. Look for these store brands: Market Pantry (Target), Great Value (Walmart), Signature Kitchen (Vons), Sprouts Brand (Sprouts Farmers Market), Kirkland Signature (Costco), and Trader Joe’s brand items at TJ’s. You can also check out the Dollar Store, Smart & Final, and Grocery Outlet for discounted prices! Here’s a side-by-side comparison of what a few store-brand staples will cost you from different chain grocery stores.

100% Whole Wheat Bread

Store & Brand Size Price Price/unit
99 cents only, Nature’s Cupboard brand 20 oz. $0.99 $0.05/oz.
Target, Market Pantry 24 oz. $1.99 $0.08/oz.
Vons, Signature Kitchen 16 oz. $1.49 $0.09/oz.
Walmart, Great Value 20 oz.

$1.99

$0.10/oz.
Sprouts Farmers Market, Sprouts brand 22 oz. $2.29 $0.10/oz.
Trader Joe’s, Trader Joe brand 24 oz. $2.99 $0.12/oz.

 

Brown Rice

Store & Brand Size Price Price/unit
Walmart, Great Value 2 lb. $1.37 $0.69/lb.
Vons, Signature Kitchen 2 lb. $1.49 $0.75/lb.
Target, Market Pantry 1 lb. $0.89 $0.89/lb.
99 cents only, Thai Lady Jasmine Brown Rice 1 lb. $0.99 $0.99/lb.
Sprouts Farmers Market, from bulk section 1 lb. $0.99 $0.99/lb.
Trader Joe’s Brown Basmati Rice 2 lb. $2.99 $1.50/lb.

 

Oatmeal

Store & Brand Size Price Price/unit
99 cents only, I Heart Oats Quick Oats 16 oz. $0.99 $0.06/oz.
Walmart, Great Value 18 oz. $1.68 $0.09/oz.
Vons, Signature Kitchen 18 oz. $1.99 $0.11/oz.
Sprouts Farmers Market, Sprouts brand 18 oz. $1.99 $0.11/oz.
Trader Joe’s Quick Cook Steel Cut Oats 24 oz. $2.69 $0.11/oz.
Target, Market Pantry 18 oz. $2.04 $0.11/oz.

 

Frozen Berries 

Store & Brand Size Price Price/unit
99 cents only, Embie Farms 12 oz. $0.99 $0.08/oz.
Trader Joe’s Fancy Frozen Berry Medley 16 oz. $2.99 $0.19/oz.
Walmart, Great Value Whole Berry Medley 16 oz. $3.86 $0.24/oz.
Target, Market Pantry Mixed Frozen Berries 12 oz. $3.49 $0.29/oz.
Vons, Signature Kitchen Whole Mixed Frozen Berries  12 oz. $3.99 $0.33/oz.
Sprouts Farmers Market, Sprouts brand Organic Frozen Berry Medley 10 oz. $3.49 $0.35/oz.

Note: Product availability may vary, and prices reflect those listed at the time the article was written.

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