Did you know that the average supermarket carries 39,500 different items? With so many options, how do you shop smart and make the best choices for your family? When you’re trying to eat smart on a budget, grocery shopping can be hard. But it is possible to save money and still eat well. It just takes some planning. These are the five best ways to shop smart on a budget.
- Make a Meal Plan. You may have heard this one before, but it bears repeating. Planning meals ahead of time saves money, saves time, and makes healthy eating possible. To save the most money, plan your menu around items you have in your pantry and sale items.
- Make a Grocery List. And stick to the list! Impulse buys can wreck your budget and are usually junk food. And when’s the last time you bought leafy greens or dried beans on a whim? Have a snack before you shop to avoid the temptation of shopping with your stomach instead of your list.
- Use Unit Prices. For identical products, the price tag can tell you which is cheaper. But for comparing different container sizes, varieties, or serving sizes, there’s a little more to it than that. This is where unit pricing comes in. You can calculate the unit price by dividing the price by the amount (weight, volume, or servings). But most stores now calculate the unit price for you on the price tag.
- Think Seasonal, Bulk, and Generic. For fresh produce, seasonal fruits and veggies are at their best flavor and price. For most items, the larger sized packages are cheaper by volume. This works best for shelf-stable or frozen items. Single serving packages are convenient, but more expensive. Most store brands are just as tasty as national brands, but cost less. Remember to use unit prices to double check that you’re getting the best deal.
- Be flexible. When you get to the store, you might find that frozen broccoli is cheaper than fresh or tortillas are on sale. Knowing how to mix and match different ingredients on the fly is a great skill that can save money. In general, you can swap fresh, frozen, or canned fruits and veggies in your recipes to use the lowest cost variety. Just adjust the cooking time of your recipe. Most sandwiches taste great whether on sliced bread, a bun, or in a wrap. For any type of lean ground meat (turkey, beef, chicken, or pork), just pick the cheapest option. The more you practice, the easier this will get.
MyPlate has more advice for healthy eating on a budget. Do you have any other tips to share that help you shop smart?