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Budget Shopping: Food on the Cheap without Sacrificing Nourishment

Updated: Nov 18, 2023

Written by Ashley Curran & Ashley Bissonnette-Murphy

Access to whole fruit and vegetables should be easy and accessible


Times are tough. Grocery prices are sky-high. So, just how do you find nutrient-rich food that is accessible and items that you feel good about serving to your family?


Finding, preparing, and enjoying nutritious food is the number one way to care for our health and family. It’s a sure way to keep chronic disease away, slow aging, increase the quality of life, and decrease the likelihood of dependence on pharmaceutical drugs. 


Face it, at the end of the day being sick and seeking invasive care, is more expensive than healthy food – and costs us what is most dear – our bodies and how we experience this so-called life.


The Preparation


Know your budget before heading to the store and prepare a shopping list ahead of time to ensure you stick to that budget. Also, do yourself a favor: do not go shopping hungry to limit those impulse buys.


Consider using grocery apps to track your food, share lists with family members, and search for relevant coupons. A free handy app is OurGroceries.


Do not fall for the coupons – just because it is on sale does not mean you need it. Stick to the necessities. If your necessity just happens to be on sale with a coupon then consider it a win!

Also, think about adding cheaper cuts of meat to your list - do some research on how best to prepare and cook, and you will find they are just as, if not more favorable! Go ahead and favor the chicken thighs, stew beef, or chuck.


The Stores


Knowing just where to shop can also help.


ALDI Grocery Store


Stores like ALDI can offer lower discount prices because they offer private labels, source from local farms and distributors to cut high delivery costs, and transfer some responsibility onto shoppers to cut prices – so be prepared to bring your bags, bag your own groceries, and rent your shopping cart.


Suggested items worth stocking at ALDI:


  • Organic rice

  • Organic meats (like whole chicken)

  • Organic produce

  • Organic pasta sauce & gluten-free pasta

  • Organic coffee

  • Avocado & coconut oils

  • Organic Nuts

  • Organic frozen veggies & berries


Do not be afraid to shop locally. Check out local seasonal markets near you to find some of the freshest in-season produce. Many farmer's markets now accept SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), FMNP (Farmers Market Nutrition Program), and Hartford Healthcare Rx plans. Also, if you show up toward the end of the market, before closing, you are more likely to strike a bargain with the farmers – that means cheaper costs for you and the farmer does not have to work lugging the products all the way back home!


Some local markets in Windham, Connecticut include:


  • Willimantic Farmers Market: open mid-May to the end of October located at Whitewater Park, Willimantic.

  • Storrs Farmers Market: open every Saturday in May through November 19th, 3-5 pm, located at 4 S Eagleville Road, Storrs.

  • Coventry Winter Farmers’ Market: open every Sunday from 10 am to 12:30 pm, November 12- March 17, located at the Coventry High School, 78 Ripley Hill Road, Coventry. Check out their list of vendors.


Community Supported Agriculture


Ever wondered what a CSA is? It is community-supported agriculture. Customers buy a share of the farm’s crop and receive a share of a portion of the in-season crop every 1-2 weeks. Many farms offer different CSA plans or programs to fit your needs and budget. On average a share is $25-50, and the value and quantity of products far exceed what you pay for it. Some CSA programs accept SNAP/EBT, although there are a few limitations. For more information, check out CT Grown.


Your food has arrived, and your fridge and cupboard are stocked – now what? Let’s get the most out of your food and limit unwanted food waste.


Food Storage (and food safety) Hacks


  • Keep your fridge temperature below 40 degrees F to inhibit bacterial growth

  • Don’t stuff the fridge too much, it prevents proper airflow making the refrigerator have to work harder to cool everything

  • Avoid having food items touch the sides or back of the fridge

  • Store meat, eggs, and dairy toward the bottom, or bottom drawer to ensure these products stay the coldest

  • Door storage is ideal for condiments, water, non-perishable drinks, or items that don’t go bad easily because the temperature is often unstable

  • Keep meats and produce separate to prevent contamination, also keep them wrapped, on a plate, or in a container to prevent juices from leaking

  • Hard cheese should be kept in its original packaging until ready to use, stored with foil, plastic wrap, or wax paper

  • Store fruits and vegetables in crisper drawers, because they need to breathe and will keep longer

  • Potatoes, onions, tomatoes, bananas, avocados, and squash do better outside of the fridge in cool dark places

  • Bread can be left out but lasts longer in the fridge


Foods You Can Freeze


Many foods do not lose their nutrients when frozen and can stay fresh for months – just defrost when needed. Purchasing frozen fruit and vegetables at the store also happens to be cheaper, and saves time in the kitchen (as items are washed and prepped before freezing).

Do you have further ideas on how to cut your grocery costs? Please leave them in the comments!

This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure. For educational purposes only.


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