The Three “P”s for Eating Better on a Budget

Good food can cost less than you think. Follow these tips for planning, purchasing and preparing delicious, nutritious meals that won’t break the bank.

If your grocery receipt seems higher than ever, you’re not alone. Retail food prices have actually risen faster than economy-wide inflation, squeezing many household budgets.

It may seem as though fast or junk food is cheaper, but unhealthy eating can lead to more costly, chronic medical conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes and more office visits, co-pays and prescriptions.

You don’t have to compromise on good nutrition. You can save money and still eat well with the three “P”s: Plan, Purchase, Prepare.

PLAN: Have a consistent strategy.

  • Make a weekly meal plan and shopping list.
  • Utilize food you have and deals you find in store sales flyers and coupons.
  • Find easy recipes online to “stretch” expensive food items.
  • Scope dollar stores, wholesale clubs, retail supercenters and farmers’ markets. (Find a nearby market near you.)

PURCHASE: Make smart (not impulsive) decisions about what goes in your cart.

  • Shop when you’re not rushed or hungry.
  • Stick to your grocery list.
  • Consider store brands, if cheaper.
  • Find and compare unit prices on shelves for the best value.
  • Purchase items in bulk or as family packs, which usually cost less.
  • Always use your store loyalty card.
  • Get a raincheck if sale items run out.


  • Pre‐cook or chop fruits/veggies on days when you have time.
  • Batch cook recipes and freeze meal‐sized or individual containers for reheating later.
  • Store food properly to avoid spoilage and waste.
  • Grow your own container or garden herbs.
  • Use a slow cooker or try “no‐cook” meals like salads.
  • Incorporate leftovers into another meal.

For ideas on which foods pack the most nutrition for the lowest cost, check out Good Food on a Tight Budget.