Tag Archives: shopping on a budget

Little boy sharing a taste with his mom while cooking

Take a Taste of Nigerian-Inspired Meals

Feeling uninspired when trying to cook healthy meals? Nigerian meals offer new flavors for more exciting family meals. You can fix your favorite dishes using Nigerian staples while eating smart. Traditional Nigerian foods include maiz, yams, cassava, and plantains. Typical Nigerian meals are tomato stew, porridge, soups such as egusi soup, and jollof rice. All of these foods can be used to create a Nigerian-inspired meal that fits MyPlate! Continue reading

piggy bank with vegetables

How to Budget for Feeding Your Family

Budgeting for meals is an extremely important part of managing a household. But how do you know what a good amount is for your family? There are a few shortcuts to help you set a food budget that meets the MyPlate recommendations, evaluate the cost of recipes, and save money at the grocery store. Continue reading

shopping at the farmers market

Price of Food at Farmers Markets

Farmers markets offer a wide variety of fresh, local fruits, vegetables, eggs, meats, baked goods and more. The quality of produce is generally unbeatable, as most fruits and veggies are picked at the peak of ripeness just days or even hours before you buy them. And many farmers selling at the market follow organic practices. Animal farmers tend to have smaller operations and use smaller processing facilities. All of these factors add up to higher prices, right? You might be surprised. Continue reading

National Farmers Market Week 2015

Happy National Farmers Market Week! I hope you’ve had a chance to visit your local farmers market and taste the delicious fresh, Virginia Grown™ food available there. All summer long, we’ve been encouraging you, our loyal readers, and participants of our program to Eat Smart, Move More at Farmers Markets. Using SNAP at farmers markets is a great way to eat smart, support your local community, and even increase your food budget (more on that below). But you don’t have to take my word for it. Today, we are featuring the advice of one of FNP’s farmers market interns as well as a SNAP recipient who shops at the farmers market.

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Shopping in Bulk

When you use unit pricing to compare costs of different foods, you quickly learn that larger sizes are often a better buy. But there are a few things you should think about before you bring home that 30-pound bag of rice and case of canned tuna.

Buying in bulk can help save money.

Is It Worth It?

  • Storage space– If you don’t have the space to keep it, buying a huge amount of food and supplies is not a great idea. If you do have space, remember the LIFO Rule– Last In, First Out. Figure out a system to make sure you use older stuff first. Writing the purchase date on the package can help.
  • Membership fees– Warehouse clubs (Costco, BJ’s, Sam’s Club, etc.) charge membership fees in order to shop there. These stores all accept EBT, so if you think the savings outweigh the membership fees, which start at round $50 a year (based on my quick web search this morning), you can stock up on your Better Pantry staples.
Warehouse clubs can be a good place to stock up on staples, if the savings outweigh the membership fees.

Warehouse clubs can be a good place to stock up on staples, if the savings outweigh the membership fees.

  • Fresh products– Only buy what you can eat before it goes bad. Wasted food is never a good buy, no matter how great of a deal you got when you paid for it. In general, non-perishable foods, those that last a long time at room temperature or in the freezer are the best items to buy in bulk.
    • If you are willing to put in a little extra work, you can freeze or can extras to use later. But be sure to weigh the extra time and effort against the cost savings. Compare the price of commercially frozen or canned items with how much you would end up paying to do it yourself.
  • Nutrition– Don’t get sucked in by the low prices. You still need to read labels and make smart choices when shopping in bulk. While buying a “sometimes” treat at the normal size probably fits in a healthy diet, buying that treat in bulk might cause you to eat it more than you should. So skip the jumbo bag of chips and get your crunch from unsalted nuts or whole-wheat pretzels.
  • Necessity– Similar to the temptation of low prices to buy unhealthy foods, make sure that you are only buying what you truly need. A meal plan and a grocery list come in handy here. No matter how much you’ll be saving, if you don’t need it, it’s not a good buy. The point is the warehouse club is not the best place to try a new and unusual food. Unless you want the other 24 servings of the dried papaya your kids won’t eat haunting your pantry for the next year.

Do you ever shop at these bulk stores? What are some of your recommendations of good items to buy in bulk?