Build a Budget-Friendly Grocery List

"We're all watching our budgets these days," said Michelle Dudash, registered dietitian, mom and author of the upcoming book titled, "Clean Eating for Busy Families." But, says Dudash, "there are important health and nutrition trade-offs that we need to consider. The truth is, Americans need a crash course in 'nutrition economics.'"

Whether it's picking the most nutrient-rich foods, or finding ways to keep the costs down within important food groups like fruits, vegetables and milk, she also emphasizes that nutrition economics doesn't mean making everything from scratch - it means doing a little advance work to understand exactly what you're buying.

"Expensive" depends on how you measure cost, so to help navigate the supermarket, Dudash has outlined tips to make the most of your grocery cart. With these tips as a guide, learn the art of nutrition economics and save more while getting nutrients you need, all within budget.

The Do's and Don'ts of Nutrition Economics 

  • DO: Learn to look at costs per nutrient. Healthy foods can sometimes appear to be higher in cost but, when you look at the nutrients these foods provide, they often are a good value. Check your labels and ask yourself: "Is the food I'm selecting packed with nutrients to keep my family fueled?" Be sure to look at the percent daily value for nutrients you need like calcium, potassium and vitamin D.
  • DON'T: Spend on substitutes. Expensive alternatives are usually just that - expensive, and they often don't deliver the value of the real thing. For example, look for the best value in the dairy aisle - milk. Unlike some of the other alternatives, you always know what you're getting when you grab a glass of milk; nine essential nutrients for just a quarter a glass.
  • DO: Think about your drink. Drinks are often an overlooked part of your food budget, and can not only break the bank; they can also lack the nutrition you need, especially at breakfast. Take a look at your beverage closely and choose the options that offer the most nutrients for a healthy start.
  • DO: Maximize the seasons. Buy fresh fruits and vegetables only when in season and learn to maximize your freezer. By utilizing frozen produce in the off season, you still get the same nutrients at a much lower cost.
  • DON'T: Be a Spontaneous Meal Planner. Of course there's room for fun when it comes to meals, but the more you plan, the more you'll maximize your budget. We can all admit to giving in to the last-minute meal, but planning ahead can help you avoid costly quick stops, and too many fresh veggies tossed in the trash.

To learn more about the value of a glass of milk, and for useful recipes your family will love, visit

Photo courtesy of Getty Images


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