By Sherry Gray – Extension Instructor Nutrition Educator, EFNEP Supervisor Foods & Nutrition
In many urban and very rural communities, there are fewer supermarket choices making it even more difficult to buy nutritious foods at affordable prices. Food prices have been going up dramatically over the past few years, making it hard for anyone to shop on a budget at the grocery store. It is particularly hard for people on limited budgets, such as the elderly and low income families, who have less access to affordable and accessible food. Even chain supermarkets now have had price increases that have made food less affordable.
Shop For A Healthy Diet & A Healthy Budget
Produce, dairy products, grains and meat products have all increased in price within the past two to three years. So what can people do to stay within their food budget and still eat a healthy, nutritious diet?
- Buy locally grown food from a farmers market or farm stand.
Farmers markets are now even in urban areas so they have become more accessible to everyone.
Look for locally grown, fresher produce at farmers markets.
Many even accept SNAP and WIC at some of the farmers markets. Produce is generally fresher and it supports local farmers as well as your community.
- Shop around for the best prices.
If you have transportation, shop around to find the best prices for food at supermarkets. Use coupons and take advantage of weekly sales to cut food costs. Try to shop only once a week and go with a predetermined list to cut down on impulse buys.
- Learn to cook.
You save money and eat healthier when you are able to prepare meals at home. Cooking and preparing food at home also cuts down on eating out at restaurants which saves more money. You have much more control of your diet when you prepare it yourself.
- Organize a community food pantry!
If people in your neighborhood are on very limited budgets, you can organize a food pantry. You can partner with a local food pantry or congregation to host a food pantry that offers healthier food options.
- Start a community garden or community supported agriculture (CSA).
This is a great way to develop a community garden where families can get access to affordable produce during the growing months.
- Buying less processed foods and cooking more at home will not only save you money, but will improve the nutritional quality of your diet. As food prices continue to rise, look for ways to cut food costs and keep to simple, unprocessed foods to keep within a budget.