Making Ends Meet: How to eat healthy without forking over big bucks at the grocery store

The secret to getting over 70% off on your next grocery trip

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With the struggles of making ends meet, this week on The Morning Show we’ve been focused on finding tricks and easy changes you can make to help you save money at the grocery store.

Now we want to talk about ways to save over 70% on products and tell you how you can pay less for the healthy food your family needs. And it’s not about skipping anything on your list, it’s about picking products that will give you what you want — without the bigger price tag.

“Feeding my family healthy foods and not breaking the bank has been a challenge, especially over the last year,” said Natalie Marie Rowe, a mother of two who shares the meals she makes her girls on social media.

Make a plan

Rowe is suffering sticker shock at the grocery store just like the rest of us, but Consumer Reports says none of us have to give up on healthy eating just because prices are rising, it just requires preparation before you head to the store.

First, make a list of what you need to avoid impulse buys. Rowe takes this one step further to cut corners.

“Look at the sales. I look at them. I write things down and then I create our weekly menu depending on what’s on sale,” she said.

Plan a full week of healthy meals ahead of time, so you are not buying more food than you’ll need. The American Journal of Agricultural Economics says the average household trashes as much as 32% of the food it buys.

A helpful trick: Before you go to the store, take photos of your pantry, your spice rack, refrigerator, and freezer. That way, while you’re at the store and wondering if you have an ingredient or not, you can just pull out your phone and look and avoid wasting money by buying duplicate items.

Save over 70%

Next, and this one is a way to save over 70%, consider switching to the store brands of products on your list.

“Consumer Reports’ testing found that they tend to cost between 5% and 72% less than the name brand products,” said Consumer Reports Health Editor Trisha Calvo.

In a recent Consumer Reports store brand vs. name brand blind taste test, here is some of what the testers found when it comes to popular pantry items:

  • If you like Honey Nut Cheerios: Consumer Reports taste testers liked Honey Nut Os from Walmart’s Great Value brand. You will save 67% per serving.
  • If you like maple syrup: Taste testers liked all the syrups tested but found some of the store brands were actually more expensive than name brands like Butternut Mountain Farm. However, they said the organic maple syrup at Costco was good and will save you 25%.
  • If you like Skippy peanut butter: Consumer Reports’ testers found brands from Aldi or Walmart will taste like sweet, sweet savings — about 50% less than Skippy.
  • If you like Planters nuts: Taste Testers said the Costco Extra Fancy Salted Mixed Nuts were fresh-tasting and had a good variety and will save you a lot of money over Planters.
  • If you like Heinz Tomato Ketchup: The tasters found that ketchup by Aldi and Target was very good, and you’ll save about 70% per serving. And bonus, both had 20mg less sodium per serving than Heinz.

Stock your freezer

Another way to save and eat healthy is to stock your freezer.

“With frozen produce, you only have to take out as much as you need for that meal,” Calvo said.

Price increases for fresh produce have increased much more than frozen. You won’t be missing out on the health benefits when you buy frozen either. Plus, they will last longer.

If you don’t want to buy frozen, skip the pre-cut fruits and veggies from the store.

“They may be more convenient, but the cost is often much higher per pound,” Calvo warned.

Although it may take more time to do your own slicing and dicing, it’ll definitely save you money.

Consider a switch

If meat prices are taking too much from your family food budget, Calvo said one way to fight back is to try some plant-based proteins.

“Plant-based foods like beans and tofu tend to be less expensive than poultry, meat, or seafood,” she suggested.

Also, Consumer Reports says you can find healthy savings at the store if you switch to seeds. Nuts are more expensive, and seeds — like sunflower and pumpkin — have many of the same nutrients like healthy fats and protein.