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Eating healthy while staying on budget

Posted at 2:46 PM, Sep 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-21 17:34:59-05

A trip to the supermarket can lead to real indigestion. It feels like grocery prices these days are taking a bigger bite out of our wallets. But it is possible for a family to eat healthy and stay under budget.

"You have to be smart and see what your budget is," says grocery shopper Ana.

Shoppers know saving at the grocery store takes some work.

"Coupons! I'm very bad at that," says grocery shopper Sonya.

But it can be done. Registered Dietitian Jennifer Trevino has advice for cutting the grocery bill. But you may not like it. For starters, she says eat less.

"When you're trying to save money and you're on a budget, watch if you're also overeating," she says.

It's an idea shoppers we spoke with understand.

"If I buy less I do better, because I'm not wasting. I'm not throwing away food," says Sonya.

The truth is eating less means saving more. So to avoid spending too much, Jennifer says never shop while hungry.

"Because there's something called 'grocery goggles' and if you come hungry, you're going to go for all the convenience foods and all the snack foods, and it's going to get really expensive," says Jennifer.

Be sure to plan out your meals for the week, make a shopping list, and stick to it. Also, this may sound extreme, but try giving up meat once or twice a week. It's usually the most expensive part of your shopping list.

"I think we eat too much of it," says Jennifer.

Instead, try a cheesy pasta dish with a side salad or veggies. Just remember when shopping for any fruits or vegetables, look for what's in season.

"Normally they'll be right up in front, they'll be on sale, or cheaper than you've seen them in the past," says Jennifer.

And she says, don't waste your money buying the more expensive organic fruits and vegetables.

"It's better for the environment. But in terms of nutrients, there's really not too much of a difference," says Jennifer.

If you really can't see yourself going vegetarian for a night, try a popular substitute like beans. A black bean burrito with avocado is usually popular with even the pickiest eaters. 

Now, when if comes to buying snacks for the family, Jennifer says stay away from the middle of the grocery store. That's what she calls the "danger zone."

"An aisle like this, the snack aisle, can really blow your budget really fast... you're going to pay for any type of packaging and convenience," says Jennifer.

So be sure to make your own snacks for the week. Like mixed nuts, celery and peanut butter, or a piece of fruit and some cheese.

"If we're on a budget and we're feeding a big family, it's more important to eat a real apple, as opposed to applesauce, or an apple fruit roll up," says Jennifer.

To save money, be sure to also sign up for the rewards program at your favorite grocery store. There are also apps that provide details on special deals and coupons.