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Savvy Budgeting, Shopping Strategies | Sept. 7, 2011

By Gretchen Goetz, Dietetics student and SeAnne Safaii, Ph.D., RD

Getting the most for your money when it comes to shopping for healthy food isn’t rocket science.  There are several savvy tactics to use.  The more angles and resources used, the more potential dollars saved.  Begin with a little bit of planning.  There are several websites designed to help the “frugally challenged” in gaining some budgeting know-how skills.  One of them, www.sensetosave.com, gets a thumbs up from dietitians because it provides user-friendly free tools such as a Recipe Cost Calculator, frugal recipe ideas, coupon sources and an Energy Use Spreadsheet for tracking costs.


Before heading out to the store, start your plan of attack by making a grocery list.  First, think about each dinner you plan to prepare for the coming week.  Then, beginning with the first meal on that list, write out ingredients you are missing that will need to be purchased.  Once you have the list of ingredients for that first meal, move on to the next until you have a full week.  You may want to do this with lunches as well.


Make your own lunch.  Eating out or eating fast food for lunch can cost a fortune, and can pack on the pounds.  You also miss out on fruits and vegetables when eating out.  By preemptively preparing your lunch, you can add more nutritious options than what is available already prepared.  Next, move on to breakfast adding anything you need for breakfasts to you list.  Finally, add on snacks, paper supplies and any cleaning supplies you need.


When buying groceries buy in bulk, if possible.  Stores that specialize in large bulk items do offer good discounts, but check prices.  Once you become familiar with which items they offer that are cheaper, you can always plan to get those foods at the warehouse store.


Since thrifty grocery shopping is about always looking for ways to save money, if you have any coupons for items on your list, pull those coupons and attach them to your list.  Then place a mark beside that item on your list.  This will jog your memory in the store to look at the coupon and purchase the correct brand in order to use the coupon.  Thrifty food shopping is sometimes a matter of using coupons and sales at the same time.  Check your newspaper to see which stores offer double coupon days.


Another tool to use is The Thrifty Food Plan, which is available at www.cnpp.usda.gov/USDAFoodPlansCostofFood.htm.  This serves as a food guide for a nutritious diet at a minimal cost.


Please join the University of Idaho dietetics students for a nutrition education forum on “How to Eat Healthy on $3.00 Per Day” from 6:30-8:00 p.m. Tuesday, September 20 at the Kroc Center.  We will share some great tips and delicious samples of affordable, nutrient dense foods for you and your family.