8 ways to shop for healthy food on a budget

Food prices have reached an all-time high in the US, and many of us are feeling the impact of inflated grocery bills. According to the Consumer Price Index, food prices rose over 13% in 12 months. That's the largest annual jump in food prices since 1979.

Although it may feel challenging to shop for healthy ingredients on a budget, we’ve put together eight simple wallet-friendly tips to help you spend less the next time you shop for healthy and nutritious food.

Healthy eating habits go hand in hand with healthy shopping habits — what you buy is what you will eat! With just a little bit of planning you can eat well without blowing your budget. Here are eight easy ways to help cut down food costs at the grocery store.

Tip #1: Plan your meals and snacks for the week

Planning your meals and snacks ahead of time helps to streamline your grocery list and keeps you on track to stay within your budget. Additionally, it eliminates the all-too familiar question: “What’s for dinner?” which all too often leads to reaching for your phone and getting dinner delivered. Planning your meals in advance makes life easier, as you’ll know what you’ll be cooking and when. Are you aware that one of the most effective ways to save money on food is to cook your own meals at home? Now, that’s food for thought!

Tip #2: Make a list — and stick to it

Now that you know what you’ll be cooking for the week, it’s time to jot down your list. The key here is to stick to purchasing only what’s on your list and avoid the impulse buys. You’ll be surprised by how not purchasing extra snacks can lead to extra money in your wallet.

Tip #3: Buy in bulk

Buying in bulk is one of the best ways to stock up on healthy foods while saving money on food. Items such as whole grains, rice, dried legumes, nuts, and seeds are just a few examples of healthy foods that have a longer shelf life. You may pay a little more up front, but your long-term savings will be well worth it!

Tip #4: Choose seasonal produce

Buying in-season fruits and vegetables is not only a tasty way to enjoy produce at its peak, but it’s a cost-saver, too. Some fruits and vegetables can be frozen for up to six months, so stock up on your seasonal favorites so you can enjoy them year-round.

Tip #5: Buy frozen and canned produce

It is estimated that nearly 40% of all produce in the U.S. is wasted. For those with busy lifestyles, buying frozen and canned produce ensures your favorite fruits and vegetables last longer, which means you’ll be wasting less food and less money! In some cases, frozen fruits may provide higher levels of nutrition as well. When fruits and vegetables are picked at their peak and frozen within 24 hours it locks in their nutrients. If your fruit is truly fresh the nutritional value will be similar but freezing them can help to retain nutritional value longer. Canned produce is a healthy option, too. Just look for and buy items that are low in sodium and have added no sugar.

Tip #6: Prepare your own food

Buying prepared food may save time, but may not save you money. When you pay for pre-prepared food you are also paying for the time that went into prep. Pre-prepared food often come in smaller portions than what you might find if you prepare food yourself which will cause you to spend more in the long run to keep your kitchen stocked. So, the next time you reach for a bag of shredded cheese or chopped veggies, think about shredding your own block of cheddar and chopping your own celery and onions. It won’t only save you money, but your food will taste fresher, too.

Skip the bottled salad dressing and make your own. Simply blend extra virgin olive oil with vinegar. Add a dash of salt, pepper, and your favorite seasonings — and you’ll have a delicious dressing that costs considerably less than a bottled brand. Try this delicious Chimichurri beef salad which includes a tasty homemade salad dressing.

Tip #7: Look for sales

Did someone say “BOGO” (buy one, get one free)? Waiting for your favorite foods to go on sale is one of the most practical suggestions for saving money on your grocery bill. This is the best time to stock up. You can even use the money you saved to treat yourself to a more expensive item next time! Additionally, waiting for sales may help you to avoid buying food you want rather than what you need.

Tip #8: Skip spending money on liquid calories

Why spend extra money buying your coffee or tea? Instead brush up on your barrista skills and make coffee and tea at home. You’ll no doubt save on calories, too when you skip the hard-to-resist whipped cream and sugary syrups.  Sticking to tap water can help you save money vs. paying for more expensive (and unhealthy) beverages like soda. For a refreshing twist, add fresh or frozen fruit for a healthy and delicious drink. Try this refreshing Blueberry lavender lemonade.

The New Mayo Clinic Diet makes it easy to eat healthy

The New Mayo Clinic Diet’s seven different flexible meal plans not only fit into any lifestyle, but they are healthy and easy to plan for. With easy-to-find ingredients that are light on your wallet, combined with quick prep times, you’ll be saving money and eating delicious meals while losing weight. Plus, the New Mayo Clinic Diet features a food tracker, so you can document all your meals.

Our team of dietitians have developed seven different meal plans which allow you to find and follow an eating style that suits your taste and diet preferences. The Simple meal plan is designed to make eating well as easy and affordable as possible. Using just a few shortcut ingredients, the Simple meal plan is filled with quick meals that cost less but still taste great!

Interested in trying our most affordable meal plan to date? Take a look at a sample of the Simple meal plan.

Which plan is right for you?

Which plan is right for you?

Whether you're looking for a healthy weight-loss plan or considering weight-loss medication, discover which of our world-leading solutions is best for you.

Take the free assessment

Get our latest blog delivered to your inbox

I agree to receive emails from Mayo Clinic Diet (we respect your privacy).

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy & Terms of Service apply.