Thursday, June 1, 2023

Frugal Food Shopping Tips to Improve Health on a Budget


frugal, health-promoting food shopping tips

Saving money at the supermarket doesn't have to mean giving up nutritious foods. Here are brilliant tips that help us keep our food budget in check, yet still be able to afford eating wholesome foods that nourish us.

Updated 4/1/2024

Consumer food prices rose 7.7 percent for year ending in April 2023. Rising food costs make us continue to look for ways to keep a firm check on spending. 

This post illustrates many food shopping tips that can help save money, without sacrificing good nutrition.

Plan Ahead

Read food advertisements, collect coupons, and see store apps to learn what's on sale. Sign up for free store loyalty programs to get the perks. 

Before heading off to the market, menu plan for one or two trips a week. Let's find recipes that include sale items, so we can start off on the right food.

Practice makes progress. Notice how empowering it feels to gain skill at adapting old standby recipes from cookbooks and online to healthier versions. 

If we choose, we can also update
family heirloom recipes this way by adding, subtracting, or substituting one ingredient for another.

Just be mindful to include menu items that fit within food categories of whole grains, veggies, legumes, protein, fruit, nuts, seeds, and low-fat dairy or dairy alternatives.

With a written menu plan in hand, check to see which ingredients are already in the fridge and pantry. 

Make a shopping list for the rest.

Fill shopping cart with ONLY those items on the list. 

If a product is unavailable when we get to the store, replace it with a food that  provides similar vitamins, minerals, and other health-promoting compounds as the original one. 

Being consistent and deliberate with our food shopping routine is a time-tested way to save money, improve health, fuel our bodies well, and keep within our budgets.

It's worth the effort to research
which foods are nutrient dense (quality over quantity). Colors 4 Health has many blog posts that can help. Feel free to use the search bar for healthy eating ideas and
check out a few samples below.

Frugal Food Tips to Improve Health on a Budget

Do the Footwork

Set the intention to find recipes that can easily be put together in the time we have, made with cookware and utensils we already own, are at our cooking skill level, and ones that we're interested in trying out.

When we vary our diet by trying a few new dishes each month, we get a chance to include the best of the fresh produce that's in stock on the day we actually do our shopping. 

Colorful fruit and veggies feed our senses and satisfy our appetites as well. 

eat produce that's colorful as the rainbow

It's wasteful and expensive to buy food we won't use. So if we'll be eating breakfast, lunch, or dinner in a restaurant or as takeout during the week, budget for that. 

Caution: We can’t control the amount of sugar, salt, and fat that goes into meals we eat out, and often meals grabbed on the run lack as many nutrients as those we make at home. Restaurant meals and takeout foods are often more costly as well.

Economize Where We Can

Save part of weekly food budget for future sales of healthy staples like quinoa, brown rice, whole-grain pasta, canned beans, and high-fiber cereals. 

Find and compare unit prices listed on shelves to get the best price. Buy store brands if cheaper. Many off brand food companies use the same quality generic products in canned and frozen goods as those found in brand names.

Keep in mind, if a product is not on our list, we're less likely to impulse buy it. 

It also follows that if we don't bring junk food into our abode, we save money, eat healthier, and take a giant step toward resisting temptation and maintaining health.

Don't even head down an aisle, if it doesn't stock a product on the shopping list.

For example, skip the flavored beverage aisle if at all possible.

Focus on shopping the perimeter of the market. One wall of most markets has produce, another protein sources, and another fresh bread. 

Smart shoppers are aware that in general, the interior sections of the store contains shelves with the most highly processed foods. If a product appears at eye level in the market it usually follows it's more expensive than products that are stocked on the shelves above or below it.

Learn to choose the most unrefined, whole food version of an item available by reading every label.

Read Every Food Label

Processed foods and drinks or fully prepared deli foods are more expensive for the most part than those we make from scratch. 

Processing and packaging costs, as well as labor and shipping costs to prepare and transport these foods to the market are all transferred to the consumer.

Most prepared foods contain added sugar, high fat, high salt, or additives and preservatives. Some include added colors, thickeners, and artificial flavors. Use prepared foods in a pinch, but don't rely on them to meet nutritional needs. 

One way to tell a processed food is unhealthy is if the ingredient list is more than three or four ingredients long.

Pre-plan the purchase of snacks. Don't buy junk food; make a choice to get munches like unsalted nuts or seeds, veggies and hummus, low salt pretzels, or air-popped popcorn instead.

Pre-plan dessert shopping as well. Apples, blueberries, bananas, grapes, peaches, and other fruit make great desserts. 

See this colorful three ingredient recipe, "How to Make a Tempting Red White and Blue Dessert," for a quick and delicious dessert idea. 

Check all use by dates, and don't stock up on food that may not be used up before it goes bad. 

Make Food Choices That Align with Our Lifestyle

Plan meals to supply energy to fit in with our activity level. 

For those who need guidance consult with your health care provider and see "The Definitive Guide to Healthy Eating in Real Life." 

Then read about the benefits of eating the rainbow of plant-based foods in "Bloom Into Health."

Vary menu plan from week to week and season to season to prevent feeling blah about meals. 

Buying and eating in-season, local crops are fresher, because they haven't travelled long distances to get to the market. In-season veggies and fruit are often those featured in weekly sales.

Reap health benefits by replacing processed foods with nutrient-rich sources of proteins including canned or dried beans, tofu, tempeh, legumes, leafy green veggies (fresh or unseasoned frozen), unsalted nuts, seeds, nut butters, nut milks, and the like. 

Eating 5-9 portions of unprocessed veggies and fruit a day are better for our waistlines, heart, and prevent serious diseases including prostate and breast cancer, and type 2 diabetes, than ready made, greasy, deep fried, or preservative laden ones.

Locate the bulk bins at the grocery store.  


Buying food in bulk allows us to scoop out the exact amount we need for a recipe ingredient like quinoa, coffee, nuts, seeds, oatmeal, and flour.

It’s often more economical to get food staples this way, than grabbing pre-packaged (cereal, dried beans, whole grains, etc.) ones. 

If we’re just buying a small amount, buying bulk foods conserves food and money, a great combo.

What to Do with Leftover Food

After we finish eating our meal, if there are any leftovers, we can stretch dollars and save time, by eating remainder the next day. 

Another alternative is to freeze uneaten food and defrost and use it at a later date. 🍉🍅🍛🍠

At one time in my life, I worked at an upscale grocery shop as a personal shopper and menu planner. I learned many of these tricks of the trade then. 

Just know I offer this information for educational and entertainment purposes only. If you need health, nutrition, or financial information consult with the pros.

Before you go please comment below.

What is your favorite tip for saving money and health as a frugal food shopper?

Mine is don't go to the market when you're hungry, rushed, or tired. 

Which of my tips resonates with you? 

Please explain in the comments section below.

Did you learn anything new or interesting by reading this post? Does it help motivate you to be a more attentive shopper and why?

I read and appreciate every comment, but will not be able to publish those with links.

Thanks so much for the visit. Before you go, please comment and re-share on social media with a link back to this post.💖 

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  1. Nancy, great ideas and information! Thanks for sharing with SSPS, and we hope to see you again next Monday! Have a great week ahead.

  2. Awesome, yes I tend to only do the outside corners for produce and whenever possible bulk bins.
    Thank you from your Vroom Vroom Team for sharing your links with us at #264 SSPS Linky. Please check back weekly to see if featured on the blog post or by any co-hosts.

  3. With the current global cost of living challenges most people are facing, this is a good resource, thanks for sharing then at the SSPS

    1. Thanks so much for mentioning the global cost of living challenges. Julie it's my pleasure to participate at Senioe Salon Pit Stop Blog Party. What a fabulous group fo bloggers and readers it attracts. Hve a beautiful evening and be well.

  4. Nancy- your practical tips are very helpful. Finding ways to be save money makes sense. Thanks

  5. Thanks Esme for the visit and comment. Yes, if all goes well I'll be at the party tomorrow. Wishing you a beautiful day.

  6. Thanks Nancy for sharing this informative article at the ~SSPS270 Keep inspiring. Julie Syl

    1. Thanks Julie for the visit and comment. Love the SSPS party and wish you a beautiful day.

  7. These are great tips! Thank you so much for sharing your post on the Senior Salon Pit Stop! I'll be featuring your recipe on Monday’s #SSPS. Congrats! Pinned
    Maria @

    1. Thanks so much Maria. I'm thrilled and honored to be featured at Senior Salon Pit Stop and appreciate it so much!

  8. I'm all for being frugal with everything! You have some great points here Nancy.
    Visiting from Esme's today. You're most welcome to join me in a cuppa at Tea With Jennifer...😊

    1. Thanks so much Jennifer. Thanks for the invite. I'll take you up on that and wish you a lovely day.