Save the Piggy Bank! Shop Healthy on a Budget

Noor Baloch, MSPH
Health Educator

National Nutrition Month 2020 Blogger Badge
I’ve been making the change to shop healthier as I begin to prepare more of my own meals. My first thought about making the swap to healthier options? THIS IS EXPENSIVE! After some time though, I got the hang of it. Choosing better eating options can be daunting. Not only was I trying to create positive habits, but I was also trying to do so while sticking to my monthly budget. In celebration of National Nutrition Month, I’ve got some tips to make shopping healthy on a budget easier.

Plan Your Meals

When trying to shop for healthy options, having a set plan for grocery shopping can make the experience less stressful and save you money. Plan your meals around sales or discounts in your grocery store. Try to incorporate whole grains, lean meat, and nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables in your meals. Locating sales can point you to a meal as well. Salmon, quinoa, and asparagus on sale? Bake the salmon and asparagus and serve over quinoa. Once you’ve located the items you want to purchase, add store or manufacturer’s coupons to stack your savings.

Buy in Bulk

My parents have bought their groceries in bulk since I was a kid. I figured doing the same would make sense as I began making my own meals. However, it turns out buying in bulk is different when you’re doing it for a family of five versus just for yourself. Don’t rule out buying in bulk though. Buying non-perishable necessities in bulk can save you a penny and help you stay out of the grocery store. Beans, lentils, and whole grains are great items to keep stocked. 

Work the Meat Counter

So you’ve planned ahead and this week, turkey breasts are on sale. Consider purchasing a larger quantity and making leftovers to freeze for later or use the meat in different ways, and enjoy a diverse selection of meals throughout the week. Another option is skipping the meat altogether. Meat is often the highest dollar ingredient in a recipe, so try incorporating a few days out of the week to go meatless. Meatless Mondays could save you some bucks and also provide a chance to try other sources of protein such as nuts, eggs, and beans. 

Try the Farmers Market 

Shopping at a farmers’ market is one way to support your local economy and purchase fresh goods. In many cases, food from the farmers market is more affordable than food from the grocery store. Try to keep up with the goods in season and find great deals. There are sources like Local Harvest to find what your local farmers are harvesting right now.

There are many ways to start moving towards a healthier lifestyle. Following these tips can point you in the right direction. If you’re considering making larger changes in your eating habits, talk to a registered dietician. They can provide guidance and tips to help you progress. 


Eat Right National Nutrition Month

Eat Right Shop Healthy on a Budget

Eat Right Shop Farmers Market

Healthy Eating Games and Activities

 Featured Poe Program: Mission Nutrition

Grade Level: 6th- 8th
Program Length: 60 minutes

Mission Nutrition is an interactive and conversational program that explores the challenge of balancing food and physical activity. Activities are designed to help participants discover the importance of food labels and the barriers to healthy eating and the risk associated with over- and under-eating. Participants are also helped to understand messages in the media targeting teens, and how they affect their food choices.

Schedule a visit online or call 919-231-4006.

 Teacher Activity: Create a Veggie Person

Grade Level: K-5

Make eating vegetables fun for kids by introducing veggies in a new way. Allow the students to create their own “vegetable people” using different vegetables such as cucumbers, olives, potatoes, and celery. Using toothpicks, encourage students to give their “vegetable person” a name and personality. Once they have completed building their “person,” reflect on the different vegetables used and their benefits. Taste-tests are encouraged!