When you’re shopping for groceries with healthy eating for the family in mind, what should you be aiming for? Ideally, we want our plates filled with a quarter each of whole grains and protein (meats, fish and eggs), and the other half with fruits and vegetables. However, it can be tricky to shop for nutritious food while staying under budget, so I wanted to share a handful of tips to minimize costs for your next grocery run.

  1. Plan your meals.Write down how many meals you will eat at home, along with the food ingredients required, including lunches and snacks if necessary. Then, make a list of the foods you need to purchase and bring it to the grocery store to avoid buying unnecessary items not on your list. When you’re meal planning, try to use one vegetable serving for both lunches and dinners, alongside two servings of fruit each day.
  2. Use your leftovers. Consider your leftovers when meal planning to avoid food waste. For example, if you cook ground beef on Monday, you could use the leftovers for Thursday’s “Taco Night.”
  3. Don’t pack lunches for school. If your child’s school offers healthy lunch options, you can save money in the long run by planning for fewer lunches to supply.
  4. Avoid processed foods. These items will add extra cost to the same foods you’re eating. For example, purchase sharp cheese and cut it into pieces instead of buying cheese sticks or packaged sliced cheese. Similarly, purchase whole fruits and chop them up in your spare time.
  5. Pick what’s in season. When you’re in the produce section, choose fruits and vegetables that are in season. Produce in season is often cheaper. If possible, avoid pre-packaged fruits and vegetables and buy your produce fresh by weight. If you want produce not in season, consider purchasing them frozen. You might find a better deal this way, and the items will last longer in the freezer.
  6. Buy generic. If the option is available, buy products manufactured under the generic grocery store brand name instead of commercial brands. Generic brand products are often much cheaper.
  7. Use bulk bins. If you’re looking for nuts, seeds, dried fruit or anything stored in bulk and purchased by weight, use your store’s bulk bins instead of purchasing packaged items. You can use bags provided by the store and even bring your own container(s) in some places.
  8. Portion your snacks. Instead of buying individually wrapped or packaged snack items, portion your items at home yourself and separate them for later snacking.