Healthy Eating on a Budget Back »

Written by Robin Keyser under the direction and review of Ann Schwader.

Grocery shopping for you and your family can add up, especially if you aim to stock your pantry with nutritious foods each week. Simple tips such as meal planning, using coupons, and shopping seasonally can help you stretch your food dollar. Saving money at the grocery store does not mean you have to give up your favorite nutritious foods. Here are some tips that you can use during your next grocery store run.

Fruits & Vegetables

  • Buy produce that are in season – these will usually be less expensive.
  • Check dates and use what you can before it spoils.
  • Try canned fruits and vegetables. Canned fruit in 100% fruit juice or canned vegetables listed as “no salt added” are great alternatives and still offer many nutrients.
  • Frozen vegetables can also cost less and are just as good for you as fresh vegetables. These also last longer, as long as you have the freezer space to store them.


  • Rice and pasta are great options that are low-cost – try brown rice or whole grain pasta.


  • Low-cost options such as beans are a great source of protein included in a main dish or offered as a side dish.
  • Buy family-size packages of meat and freeze the unused food. Choose lean meats for healthier options.
  • Eggs are another great source of protein that are a low-cost food item.
  • Canned fish – such as tuna, salmon or sardines are perfect sources of protein that you can store for a long period of time.

Dairy Products

  • Buy larger sizes of yogurt and add in your own fruit or flavors, instead of buying individual yogurts.

Other tips

  • Save money by skipping the sweet treat or salty snack aisles.
  • Plan your weekly meals – make a list before heading to the store.
  • Try and use items that you already have.
  • Read sales flyers for weekly sales or coupons.
  • Store brands often offer products at a lower cost than name brand foods.

Remember to include food choices from all 5 food groups for a well-balanced meal. By building a healthy lifestyle, you can avoid problems associated with weight as well as reduce your risk from many chronic diseases.

Try these tasty and low-cost recipes that are easy to prepare anytime.

Berry and Greens Smoothie
Courtesy: Iowa State University Extension and Outreach


  • 2 medium bananas
  • 12 ounces of nonfat vanilla yogurt
  • 3 cups leafy greens, washed (kale or spinach)
  • 16 ounces of frozen berries
  • 1 cup nonfat milk


  1. Put bananas, yogurt, and greens in the blender. Blend until smooth.
  2. Add berries to blender. Blend until smooth.
  3. Add milk to blender. Blend until smooth.
  4. Serve immediately or freeze in individual servings.

Scrambled Egg Muffins
Courtesy: North Dakota State University Extension Service


  • 2 cups vegetables, washed and diced (broccoli, red/green bell peppers, onions)
  • 6 eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ cup low fat cheddar cheese, shredded


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin tin with nonstick spray.
  2. Add chopped vegetables to the muffin tin.
  3. Beat eggs in a bowl. Stir in salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  4. Pour eggs into the muffin tin and bake 20-25 minutes. Remove the tin from the over during the last 3 minutes of baking. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the muffins and return the tin to the over.
  5. Bake until the temperature reaches 160 degrees of a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

More Ideas

For more information see Michigan State University Extension’s Tips to Eat Healthy on a Budget. In addition, try using Choose MyPlate’s Grocery Game Plan Grocery List and/or Iowa State University Extension’s Grocery Budget Calculator.


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