Feeling the squeeze of inflation at the grocery store? Check out these budget-friendly tips from Sydney McAvoy and Stephanie Snell, Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) at Wardenburg Health Center.
1. Make a plan (and stick to it)
Having a plan in place before you head to the store can help you stay organized, save money and make better choices. It’s also a great way to cut back on food waste because you’ll only buy the items you need.
To get started, think through the meals you’d like to eat this week. Be sure to include breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack options. If you’re new to meal planning it can be helpful to keep your weekly menu fairly simple until you get more comfortable with the process. For instance, you may want to cook a few dinner options and plan to use the leftovers for your lunch.
After you’ve planned out your meals for the week, start to identify which ingredients you already have on hand and which ones you’ll need to purchase. Make a commitment to stick to your list: avoid buying items just because they're on sale, and don't go grocery shopping when you’re hungry. This will help ensure that you stick to your meal plan and your budget.
If you’re worried about items that may or may not be available, consider alternatives. For instance, if you are planning to make mashed potatoes, you may want to consider getting a boxed variety if the produce variety is sold out.
2. Check for coupons or discounts
Most major stores have apps where you can find weekly deals and coupons that can save you money. Some stores, like King Soopers and Target, will even personalize coupons based on what you’ve purchased most frequently in the past. Once you’ve made your list, check your store’s app (or website) to see if there are any coupons available. If you see foods on sale, you can try to adjust your meal plan based on items that are on sale that week.
3. Swap items to save
There are a number of simple swaps you can make to help you save on a variety of items. Here are a few examples to consider…
4. Pay attention to price per unit
Sometimes, the lowest price isn’t always the best price. Instead of relying on the total price of an item alone, look for the price per unit to compare prices across different sizes. For instance, consider buying Cheerios where a 9 oz box of Cheerios may cost $2.99 and a 20 oz box costs $4.99. While the 9 oz box is cheaper overall, it actually costs more per ounce. In this example the smaller box costs you about 35 cents per ounce while the larger box only costs about 25 cents per ounce. Most stores make this math easy by providing per unit pricing on the bottom of their price stickers.
5. Connect with resources
CU Boulder students, staff and faculty can access a variety of resources related to food insecurity and nutrition.