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SHOP SMART

Shop Smart to Fill Your Cart on Every Aisle

August 18, 2014, 11:00 AM
Shop Smart to Fill Your Cart on Every Aisle
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Use the tips below to fill your cart with budget-friendly and healthy options from each food group.

Find fruits and vegetables in the produce section, frozen foods and in the canned and pantry food aisles. Compare prices to find the best buys.

  • Buy “in season” produce. They are usually less expensive and are at their peak flavor. Buy only what you can use before it spoils. For more info check out “What’s in Season this Season?” from SNAP-Ed Connection.
  • Try buying canned. Choose fruit canned in 100% fruit juice and vegetables with “low-sodium” or “no salt added” on the label. These products are just as nutritious as fresh, and often cost less.
  • If you have the freezer space, buy frozen vegetables without added sauces or butter. They are as good for you as fresh and may cost less.
  • Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables last much longer than fresh and it’s a quick way to add fruits and vegetables to your meal.
  • For a great resource on selecting healthy and affordable produce, take a look at Smart Shopping for Veggies and Fruits – 10 Tips.

Find grains in many areas of the store, including the bread, cereal, snack, and pasta and rice aisles.

  • Make half your grains whole grains. Throughout the store, check ingredient lists and pick the items that have a whole grain listed first.
  • Whole grains include whole wheat, brown rice, bulgur, buckwheat, oatmeal, whole-grain cornmeal, whole oats, and whole rye.
  • Rice and pasta are budget-friendly grain options.
  • Choose hot cereals like plain oatmeal or whole grain dry cereal.
  • Try new whole grain snack ideas, like switching to whole-wheat crackers or popping your own popcorn.
  • For more information on grains visit Choosing Whole-Grain Foods.


Find protein foods throughout the entire store. They can be found in the fresh meat case, frozen foods section, dairy case, and canned and pantry food aisles.

  • Some great low cost choices include beans and peas, such as kidney beans, split peas, and lentils. Use these good sources of protein for main or side dishes. Beans and peas cost far less than a similar amount of other protein foods.
    To lower meat costs, buy the family-sized or value pack and freeze what you don’t use. Choose lean meats like chicken or turkey. When choosing ground beef, make sure it’s lean (92% lean 8% fat) ground beef.
  • Seafood doesn’t have to be expensive. Try buying canned tuna, salmon, or sardines – they store well and are a low cost option.
  • Don’t forget about eggs! They’re a great low-cost option that’s easy to prepare.
  • For more tips on making healthy protein choices, check out With Protein Foods, Variety Is Key.

Find dairy foods in the refrigerated and pantry aisles.

    • Choose low- fat or fat-free milk. They provide just as much calcium, but fewer calories than whole and 2% milk.
    • Buy the larger size of low-fat plain yogurt instead of individual flavored yogurts. Then add your own flavors by mixing in fruits.
    • When it comes to cheese, look for “reduced fat,” or “low-fat” on the label.
    • Always check the sell by date to make sure you’re buying the freshest dairy products.
    • See Got Your Dairy Today? to learn more.
        • Drink water instead of buying sodas or other sugary drinks. Tap water is easy on your wallet and has zero calories. A reusable water bottle is a great way to have water with you on the go. For other drink ideas, see Make Better Beverage Choices.
        • Save time, money and calories by skipping the chip and cookie aisles.
        • Choose the checkout lane without the candy, especially if you have kids with you.
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To maintain your weight, it’s important to balance calories eaten with calories used. This week keep track of the calories you consume by keeping a food journal. Try to stay within a 2000 calorie budget.

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