The 3-P approach to eating right on a budget

You don’t have to spend a lot of time and money to eat nutritiously if you’re smart about planning, purchasing, and preparing your food.


  • Plan meals and snacks for a week, taking into account how much money you have to spend on food.
  • Make a grocery list.
  • Check for sales and coupons in your local newspaper and online.
  • Ask whether your local grocery store offers a loyalty card.


  • Stick to your grocery list.
  • Buy store brands if they are cheaper.
  • Buy some items in bulk or family packs, which tend to have a lower per-unit price.
  • Shy away from convenient foods such as pre-cut produce, individual cups of yogurt, and instant, individualized hot cereals and rice.
  • Focus on low-cost items that are available all year.
    • Protein — beans such as garbanzo, black, and cannellini
    • Vegetables — carrots, greens, and potatoes
    • Fruit — apples and bananas


  • Some meals can be made in advance; pre-cook meals on days when you have time and store them in the refrigerator (if you plan to use them within three or four days) or freezer.
  • Double or triple recipes and freeze the extra in meal-sized containers or individual portions for later.
  • Use leftover items in future meals.


Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion


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