MU Extension MU Extension       University of Missouri    ●    Columbia    ●    Kansas City       Missouri S&T     ●    St. Louis - Food and Fitness


Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Your Budget


Woman with grocery sackSqueezed by rising food prices?


Small changes in your shopping and food consumption habits can mean saving big money at the grocery store. This may involve planning ahead and changing habits, which is hard, but if you try one or two changes each week they will soon become part of your normal shopping routine and you will see some relief in your grocery bills.


  • Compare brands and look at the cost of food per serving. If you will use all of it, the economy size is often (but not always) a better price per serving. Bring a calculator to compare unit prices. Sales tags often do not recompute unit prices. Generic brands tend to be the best deal and they are often just as good as the name brand items.
  • Where you shop may cost you money. Bulk food stores may not always be a good choice. You may be tempted to buy foods you don’t need and can’t store properly.
  • Buy non-food items from discount stores. This includes pet food, cleaning supplies and personal care items. You pay more for these at the grocery store.
  • Stock up on non-perishable foods when they are on sale. Take advantage of sales and stock up on foods that you will eat and will not go to waste.
  • You pay more for convenience foods such as a ready-to-cook chicken breast. If you prepare it yourself, you save money and you have control over what goes in the food, such as less fat and salt.
  • Nutritious foods are a better value. Foods high in fat and sugar – like cookies, chips, doughnuts and soft drinks – have fewer nutrients than nutritious fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk and lean meats. Remember, the fiber in fruits and vegetables fills you up and keeps hunger away.
  • Shop the outer aisles where you find fruits, vegetables, dairy products and meats. The inside aisles are where you find higher-priced processed foods and snacks.
  • Look high, look low. Bargains are usually on the top or bottom shelves, not at eye level.
  • Track your store's loss-leader items. Loss-leader items are low-priced items to get you into the store so you buy other higher-priced items. Different sections of the store are featured each week. Stock up on each week's loss-leader items, especially things like cereals and juice.
  • Store food properly. Food that gets thrown out is money lost.
  • Serve smaller portions. Most of us eat larger portions than we need. Serving food on smaller plates and drinks in taller, thinner glasses can help us eat or drink less.
  • Repackage large containers of food into smaller bags and containers. This will make foods more convenient to grab and go. If you must have snacks on hand like cookies, smaller portions help you avoid overindulging.
  • Cook once, eat twice. Buy enough ingredients to cook more than one meal and freeze meal-sized portions. Now there’s no need to buy frozen dinners. This will also ensure that you use leftovers and don't waste food.


University of Missouri logo links to

Site Administrator:
Copyright  ADA  Equal Opportunity

MissouriFamilies is produced by the College of Human Environmental Sciences,
Extension Division, University of Missouri

Last update: Thursday, August 09, 2012