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Winner's Circle

May 2013

Grocery shopping can be a significant budget expense. What is your strategy to eat healthy while sticking to your budget?

The Winning Entry

"We eat less meat and more grains and legumes to try and stick to a budget while eating healthy. Grains and legumes are much less expensive and have high nutritional value. Be creative and use them in casseroles or pasta dishes. You can go online for recipe ideas. Always plan and make a list before shopping and then stick to your list. Use coupons and especially take advantage of stores that offer double or triple coupon days. Buy fruit that is "in season" as it is less expensive. Also, visit local farmers markets for healthy and organic alternatives. "

Mitsue P., Raleigh, NC

Other Favorites

Notable Mention

"My tip for eating healthy while sticking to my budget is to work together with my roommates and plan out meals BEFORE we go shopping. Instead of wasting money by buying vegetables and fruits that are going to go bad because we don't use them, we plan out our meals for a week or two in advance and buy only the essential items. This saves us a lot of money because we aren't buying useless items that will only rot in the fridge!"

Nicole D., Aliquippa, PA

"I started by changing the way I buy my food. For instance, I stay in the grocery store a little longer and only buy what I need now, not what I want. I invite my sister to go to Sam's Club with me, because sometimes we can split the cost of items bought in bulk - like paper towels and canned goods. We also take turns driving on these outings. If I cook a lot of food, I will freeze it for single servings. "

Lila H., Brunswick, GA

"I like to Make a big batch of soup or something else hearty in the beginning of the week and then use it all week long for lunches and side dishes. This helps me cut down on excessive trips to the store!"

Sarah L., Burlington, CT

"I use a website (www.southernsavers.com) to help me with my budget. We also try to stick to eating just the items that are on the outside walls of the grocery store. I’ve found that many of the things on the inside (shelves) are often items your body doesn't necessarily need. Now that summer is upon us - we will visit the local farmers market for vegetables and fruits!"

Erin D., Mt Holly, NC

"I shop at local farmer's markets to get healthier and more affordable items than I can find at the chain super-market. I like that it helps the locals. I usually cook things on Sundays, to help free up time during the week and make it less stressful. I try to make lots of extras, so I can have leftovers during the week as well as freezing some so when I'm feeling lazy I can just pull it out of the freezer! Who needs to buy frozen meals when you can make them yourself! "

Breann F., Cedar Rapids, IA

"When I see vegetables marked down in the produce section...just before going bad...I buy them. Then I put them in my food processor and puree them. Squash, zucchini, peppers, carrots, tomatoes and onions...then add them to a large pot of spaghetti sauce. Making a large pot full allows me to freeze sauce to use for future dinners. This is how I sneak veggies into my family."

Terry E., Greenville, NC

"One way that I try to stick to my budget while eating healthy is to get food that is good for you, but not buying name brands. The off brand is normally just as good for and usually tastes exactly that same. Generic brands are normally at least much cheaper. Another strategy I use is to buy in bulk if it is something that I eat regularly. I am a big fan of strawberries so I normally get the 5-pound box. It is pretty much half the price compared to me buying a new 1-pound box every time I run out. Hope this helps! "

Kasideigh W., Glasgow, KY

"Even on a tight budget I'm able to purchase healthy food for my family. I buy beans and other legumes and cook them fresh at home. They can be used in many different recipes in place of meat (as they have a lot of protein). I buy things that are on sale and in bulk when it makes sense. Freezing is a great option as well. In the spring/summer months we have a huge garden where we plant all types of vegetables. What isn't eaten during the season is canned for the winter months. "

Colleen W., Wyandotte, MI

"I have found that most areas offer a Co-op of some sort. It took minor research but I actually found one near my town in rural Illinois! Every two weeks you get fresh/organic fruits and vegetables for a low price of about $20. It is well worth the price and it tastes so much better than local stores. This helps our family choose wisely in our mouths and our pockets!"

Rebecca H., Shipman, IL

"My secret to eating healthy while on a budget is to buy a cheap box of brown rice and some frozen vegetables. A box of instant brown rice usually cost me about $1.50 and I get several side dishes from it. I can season it different ways to make it tasty. I stock up on frozen bags of vegetables when they are on sale for about one dollar a bag. This way I can always include a cup of vegetables with every meal. It’s quick to prepare and there are hardly any leftovers or waste because I keep the vegetables frozen until I eat them. I can get through the whole week this way under $10.00! All I have to do then is add a piece of meat for a complete meal. "

Patricia D., Pittsboro, NC

"I go through all of the weekly ads and make a list of which store has what on sale. I then go through the coupons and try to match up sale items with coupons. I go to Aldis (a discount grocery chain) to buy the staples and any extras that they may have. I only buy name brands if they are deeply discounted or if I have a coupon. We manage to get by on a budget and I find that since shopping at Aldis I am able to make more fresh food with natural products instead of depending on processed foods. "

Kimberley A., Hazelwood, MO

"Freeze ANY left overs even if a scant 1/4 or 1/2 cup. By the end of a month you have enough leftovers to make a delicious stew or vegetable potpie. Also include any meat scraps (if you eat meat)."

Betty-Jane O., Scappoose, OR

"My husband and I have $75 a week dedicated to groceries. We go to Trader Joes (a grocery store that carries healthier foods for lower prices) and the local Farmer's market to get fresh non-GMO produce, eggs, and poultry that are cage free and without added hormones. While we are in the store we use a phone to add up the prices as we put things into our cart. We round-up on the price when we calculate ($3.56=$4) because it covers tax and sometimes you end up spending a lot less than you thought you would which definitely causes smiles :)"

Marisa P., North Hollywood, CA