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Eat smart

young woman looking at items on store shelf

Shop and save

English | español

Grocery shopping on a budget takes a few hours to learn and a lifetime to master. Start saving today with these resources and tips.

Think before you shop

Shopping to save starts before you step out the door.

Stretching your food dollar — Grocery shopping can be a real challenge, especially if you are on a limited budget. Part of the Getting through tough times series. English (PDF) | español (PDF)

Shopping Tips (PDF) — Tips for before, during, and after your shopping trip.

Strategies You Can UseIowa State University Extension and Outreach — Gives details about three strategies you can use to get more for your money when shopping for food. Part of the Spend Smart. Eat smart. series. English | español

Save money and the environment by reducing food waste — Learn how you can reduce food waste by planning menus, shopping smart, understanding food dating, and finding new uses for leftovers. English | español

Plan to save

A very important part of shopping to save is making a list. Writing down what you need before you get to the store — and sticking to it — cuts down on forgotten items and impulse buys. And how do you decide what goes on the shopping list? By planning your meals for the week!

Thinking Ahead (PDF) — Plan all your meals for the week and write your grocery shopping list, all on one worksheet.

Meal Planning Guide (PDF) — Think, plan, shop: three steps for putting a meal on the table every night of the week.

Make Your Own Envelope (PDF) — Save coupons in this handy envelope that doubles as a pre-made shopping list.

Weekly Grocery Purchases (PDF) — Keep track of your purchases for a week to get started with savings that add up.

Save aisle-by-aisle

Every aisle in the grocery store has multiple ways to save. Get familiar with how to find the best value for your money.

Money-saving Tips for Grocery Shopping (PDF) — A category-by-category list of how to save at the grocery store.

Spend Smart. Eat smart. — DairyIowa State University Extension and Outreach — Spending wisely in the dairy aisle means buying the most calcium for your dollar. Check your dollar-saving skills and try these “spend smart” strategies.

Spend Smart. Eat smart. — FruitsIowa State University Extension and Outreach — Fresh, frozen, canned, and dried fruit all have similar nutrient values. Check these strategies to find smart buys.

Spend Smart. Eat smart. — ProteinIowa State University Extension and Outreach — Check your dollar-saving skills for buying protein foods and use these strategies to get the most from your budget.

Dried Beans, Peas, and Lentils Can Help You Save $$Iowa State University Extension and Outreach — Get ways to store and prepare different types of dried beans as well as cooking tips to help save time and money. Includes recipes and tips for adding beans to your diet.

Spend Smart. Eat smart. — VegetablesIowa State University Extension and Outreach — Use these strategies to find the best ways to include the most vegetables in your food budget.

Related resources

Strategies for spending less — When your family faces reduced income, take immediate action to stop all excess spending.

Cook up a delicious holiday on a budget — Plan your holiday meals to help minimize the stress they can cause to your body or your budget. English | español

Farmers markets — Get tips for shopping at farmers markets on a budget. English | español

10 Tips Nutrition Education — Easy-to-follow tips in a convenient, printable format in English and Spanish that are perfect for posting on a refrigerator. See especially Smart shopping for veggies and fruits and Eating Better on a Budget.

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