Couponing and Money-Saving Tips for Nutrition on a Budget

The cost of food is steadily rising, and this makes it harder to eat food that's healthy and nutritious. High prices at the grocery store also lessen the amount of money one has for other things. Fortunately, it's never too soon to learn some money-saving tricks that can make buying food more affordable.

Pay Attention to Nutrition

When shopping on a budget, a person can easily make the wrong choices. Because healthy food is often more expensive, a person can easily end up with a cart that's full of items that are relatively low in cost but unhealthy. Buying foods that are both nutritious and inexpensive can be as simple as making different choices. A simple money-saving tip is to buy frozen fruit and canned or frozen vegetables and fish instead of fresh. These options are healthy and cheaper, plus they won't spoil as quickly. Canned fish, such as tuna or salmon, is more affordable and contains good-for-you omega-3 fatty acids. But be careful: Canned food can have higher sodium and added sugar. When buying canned food, choose brands that are lower in sodium and have little to no sugar added. Avoid any canned food that's packed in heavy syrup or oil, as those packed in water or natural juices are healthier options.

Don't Shop Unprepared

Most people know it isn't a good idea to shop while hungry. Everything just looks too tasty not to buy! The same goes for shopping unprepared. Grocery shopping without a list makes a person more likely to buy things they want instead of what they need. To prevent that, take stock of what's in the refrigerator and pantry. Make note of things that are missing, almost empty, or past their expiration date. Besides making a grocery list, it's also a good idea to plan out upcoming meals. This is a good way to create a shopping list and can prevent unexpected shopping trips for missing ingredients. Whether it's on one's phone or written by hand, a grocery list helps shoppers purchase only what's necessary.

Use Coupons

Coupons are one of the best money-saving tools around. Most adults past a certain age remember when using coupons meant clipping them from advertisements in a Sunday newspaper. Today, coupons are more likely to be digital than not. People can find store-specific coupons on grocery store websites, and there are several free apps that offer digital coupons for food and everyday goods. Because they are stored right on one's phone, savings are just a scan away.

Despite the popularity of digital coupons, their paper counterparts do still exist. People with access to a Sunday paper will find store ads are still available with coupons for clipping. Some stores print deals on the backs of their receipts. And flyers in stores may have coupons that can be torn out and given to the cashier on the spot.

To make the most of coupon savings, use them with cash-back apps that provide points for items that one has purchased. These points can add up to gift cards or even money in the bank. Several grocery stores also have savings cards that offer rewards or special discounts to members.

Compare Prices and Brands

One way shoppers can avoid spending more is to not buy the first thing that they see. It's always wise to compare the prices between different brands of the same size product. This includes store-brand items. Often, store-brand goods are of the same quality as name brands. The same manufacturer may even make them. Because they don't have a highly marketed and easily recognizable brand name, they typically cost less. Almost anything, from salt to crackers to toilet tissue, is available with a store brand label.

Buy in Bulk

At first glance, buying in bulk may seem like an expensive option for someone who lives alone or with a small family. However, certain items are cheaper when bought in bulk. Some things that people often buy in small quantities, such as peanut butter or brown rice, are less expensive when purchased in bulk and will keep for a while. Even poultry and meat are available in bulk quantities that can be cut and repackaged at home into smaller serving amounts.

Buying food in bulk doesn't just save money. It requires less packaging and less frequent shopping trips. Both things are good for the environment, too!

Unfortunately, buying bulk may also lead to waste if items are not properly stored. As always, one should handle raw foods carefully and keep them stored under the correct conditions. Meats, for example, will keep longer when properly packaged and kept in the freezer than they will in the refrigerator.

Use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Even budgeting and shopping wisely can be too costly for people who are unemployed or working low-paying jobs. Fortunately, low-income individuals and families can get help. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a government program that helps low-income people buy the food that they need to live.

In order to receive SNAP, one must apply in the state where they live and meet certain employment and other requirements. Applicants must also meet gross and net income limits. Depending on where a person lives, the program may go by different names. People who are eligible are given an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card that they use like a debit card at authorized retailers. People can use it to buy a range of essential foods, including healthy food items like fruits and vegetables, meat and poultry, dairy products, bread, cereal, and nonalcoholic beverages.

about the author

Maureen Jackson
Content Associate