Important tips to save money while food shopping

Sandra R. Cain For Better Living

With thousands of foods to choose from, how can you get the most nutrition from your food dollar?

A smart shopper plans ahead and knows exactly what to buy. A smart shopper also recognizes marketing techniques that may encourage spending beyond the shopping plan. Food shopping on a budget takes planning. Shopping with a list and sticking to it can save you 20 percent on your overall grocery bill. That’s $20 saved for every $100 spent.

Here are some tips to help you get the most for your money:

— Make a budget and decide how much money you can spend at the store each week. Next, plan your family’s menu. Don’t forget to include any non-food items you may need.

— Use a shopping checklist to plan your weekly trip to the store. When you carry a list, you spend less time in the grocery store and are less tempted to buy “impulse” items. Often, impulse items, such as candy, magazines, toys, and gadgets, are located near the checkout lines in stores. On your list, be sure to write how much you need on the line next to the item. Don’t forget to check the item off once you put it in your cart.

— Do your shopping alone if possible. Family members may suggest buying items that aren’t in the budget or a healthy meal plan.

— Don’t shop hungry. If you’re already hungry when you go, you will buy things that you really don’t need and didn’t plan to buy.

— Don’t forget your coupons. Be sure to check your newspaper and computer for coupons. Make sure that the coupon is for an item that you need and will use. I speak from personal experience on this issue. A really good deal is not a deal at all if you purchase the item and it sits in your cabinet until it expires.

— Plan two-stop shopping. Many non-food items, such as pet products, paper goods, household cleaners and health and beauty products are often less expensive at discount stores. It may be well worth your time and money to make a stop at the discount store for these items.

— Be flexible with your shopping list. You may find fresh, local, seasonal, and sale items that would work just as well into your menu as those you were planning to buy.

Sources: Vermont Cooperative Extension; Mississippi State University Extension


Island Fruit Salad

2 medium ripe bananas, sliced

1 medium mango, peeled and cubed

4 kiwifruit, peeled and cubed

1 can (20 ounces) unsweetened pineapple tidbits, drained

1 carton (6 ounces) reduced-fat pina colada yogurt

½ cup flaked coconut, toasted

In a large serving bowl, combine the bananas, mango, kiwi, pineapple and yogurt. Toss to coat. Sprinkle with coconut. Yield: 8 servings

Sandra R. Cain is the Bladen County Extension director. She can be reached at 910-862-4591 or

Sandra R. Cain For Better Living R. Cain For Better Living