Americans are spending 17 percent more on groceries than they did four years ago, according to a recent analysis of the spending behaviors of millions of Mint.com account holders. Households spent an average $316 a month in groceries in the first quarter of this year, compared to $269 in the same period of 2009, a CNNMoney story reported.
Choosing healthy foods is not only better for us, but they can be more economical, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's site ChooseMyPlate.gov.
The site emphasizes the importance of the three P's – plan, purchase and prepare – when it comes to eating healthy on a budget. In addition to meal plans and recipes, ChooseMyPlate.gov offers tips on getting the most bang for your grocery buck:
- Compare and contrast: Locate the "Unit Price" on the shelf directly below the product. Use it to compare different brands and different sizes of the same brand to determine which is more economical.
- Buy in bulk: It is almost always cheaper to buy foods in bulk. Smart choices are family packs of chicken, steak or fish and larger bags of potatoes and frozen vegetables.
- Buy in season: Buying fruits and vegetables in season can lower the cost and add to the freshness.
- Go back to basics: Convenience foods like frozen dinners, pre-cut vegetables and instant oatmeal will cost you more than if you were to make them from scratch.
- Easy on your wallet: Certain foods are typically low-cost options year-round. Try beans for a less expensive protein food. For vegetables, buy carrots, greens or potatoes. Apples and bananas are good choices for fruit.
By Emily Kittle