While You Shop

Plan ahead to save money and buy healthy foods for your family. 

At The Store

  • Try store brands. They usually cost less.
  • Check “sell by” dates. Buy the freshest food so it lasts longer. Or buy and use food that is about to expire if it is on sale.
  • Try to eat before you go to the store. You are likely to buy more food than you need when you are hungry.
  • Look at the per-unit price on the shelf price tag. This tells you the price per serving and helps you compare prices on things like dairy. 
  • Produce that is prepared is usually more expensive. Stick to produce that hasn't already been washed and chopped for the best price. 
  • Buy blocks of cheese instead of grated. 
  • Shop in the bulk sections.
  • Be sure to look up and down the shelves. The items at eye-level are usually the priciest.
  • Get an IOU on sale items. If a sale item sells out, most stores will provide you with a slip of paper that gives you the sale price for when the item is back in stock.

Food Labels

Choose the best foods by reading the labels.

Money Saving Ideas

Save in every section of the store—and at the farmers’ market.

Vegetables and salad

  • Buy large bags of frozen vegetables.
  • Buy full heads of lettuce or spinach. Avoid pre-bagged salad mixes. Uncut fresh vegetables will last longer and can cost less than bagged salad mixes.

Fruits

  • Buy fresh fruits in season when they often cost less. Farmers markets will also have fruit that is in season. 
  • Frozen and canned fruits are a smart choice all year-round. 

Canned Food Choices

Look for low-sodium canned veggies and canned fruits in water, not syrup.

 

Low-fat Milk Products

  • Buy fresh, low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese in the largest size to save money.
  • If you are not going to use all of your milk or cheese, you can freeze it before it goes bad.
  • Ultra-pasteurized milk won’t spoil as fast.

Meat and Beans

  • Dried beans and peas are a good source of protein and fiber and last a long time.
  • Chuck or bottom round roast has less fat and costs less than sirloin.
  • Look for deals at the meat counter. Buy meat on sale to save money.
  • Buy meat in large bulk packages. Freeze what you might not use right away to keep it from going bad.

Breads and Whole Grain

  • Look for bread that is a day old. It costs less, but is still good to eat. And don’t forget, 100% whole grain bread is the healthiest choice.
  • Buy regular brown rice and oatmeal. Instant rice and oatmeal cost more and have more sugar and calories.

Buy in Bulk

Many stores have a bulk foods section. Buying some items in bulk can save you money. Know the best bulk foods to buy and always compare the unit price of bulk items with the unit price of packaged goods.

Get the most for your money. When you are at the grocery store, be sure to look at the shelf tag where it shows the cost per unit. Buying larger packages is not always cheapest.

Bulk Bin Buys

Items that will cost less and stay fresh.

  • Dried beans
  • Rice
  • Grains
  • Spices
  • Coffee
  • Dried fruits & vegetables

Mom tip

“I buy spices in bulk so I can use them when they are fresh.” –Mary

 

Buy What’s In Season

Fruits and vegetables always taste better and cost less when they are in season. Check the table below to know what to buy when.

Fall fruits and vegetables include: apples, broccoli, cauliflower, grapes, pineapples, pumpkins, squash, and sweet potatoes. Winter fruits and vegetables include: pears, clementines, collard greens, grapefruit, kale, oranges, and brussels sprouts. Spring vegetables include: asparagus, corn, honeydew, mangoes, peas, spinach, and strawberries. Summer fruits and vegetables include bell peppers, berries, cherries, corn, green beans, melons, sugar snap peas and zucchini.

Visit a Farmers Market

Farmers markets are a great place to buy food that is in season, and many of them take SNAP food benefits. To find one near you, go to USDA Farmers Markets Directory Search and enter your ZIP code.

Using SNAP Food Benefits at the Farmers’ Market

  1. Find out which markets accept SNAP benefits by clicking on the “Payment Accepted” tab in the same search tool. Check the box for “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).”
  2. Be sure to click the link to the market’s website to see if they offer double-dollar days. This lets you get twice as much for the same price (usually $20 for $40 of food). 
  3. When you get to the farmers’ market, go to the organizer's tent. They will swipe your Lone Star card and give you coupons or tokens to use at any of the booths. Each market may be different, so find out about the one in your area.

Food Pantries

If you are having a hard time making it through the month with enough food for your family, a food pantry may be able to help. Food pantries offer free, healthy food and other resources. Dial 2-1-1 or look online to see if there is a food pantry near you. Many pantries are working to stock fresh fruits and vegetables you can use to help feed your family.