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Take a Bite Out of Your Food Budget

By Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDCES April 26, 2023Nutrition Education Services Center Blog

What in the world is going on with food prices? The cost of groceries increased 11.4 percent in 20221. To add to this misery, the prices of some foods have jumped even more. Egg prices have increased 32 percent and chicken prices have increased by about 15 percent. These hikes in food costs can cause stress for a person with cancer, who already may have limited resources.

Don’t let these dollar signs get you down. Instead, work on your meal planning skills and shopping habits to help “take a bite,” out of your food budget. You can still have healthy meal choices for you and your family without breaking the bank. Explore the following steps to help you stay on track:

  1. Start with a list

Make an inventory of what you have now in your pantry, freezer, and fridge. You may already have food worth $200 or more at your fingertips. What meals can you create from these ingredients already in the house?

  • Make a menu plan for the week then write a grocery list. This will help stop you from purchasing ingredients you don’t need or having to make extra trips to the store!
  • Use a smart app to help come up with recipes.
  • Get the tools you need to be a guru in menu planning.


2. Focus on where you get the biggest bang for your dollar

Meat and animal protein foods are the most expensive items on the menu. So, start there. To save dollars, you can reduce the portion size and frequency of animal protein that you serve. Did you know that many people eat twice the suggested serving of meat at meals? Trim down the adult portion size to a healthier 3-ounce portion of meat. Tip: This is about the size of a deck of cards. Find more information about serving sizes and portioning your meals here. Or just skip animal protein all together. Instead, choose plant proteins which cost much less. We’re talking dried beans, lentils, tofu, seitan, nuts, hemp and other seeds, soy yogurt, or veggie patty, which can easily be served with grains in a bowl, wrap, or sandwich.

3. Get smart about where you shop

Let’s face it. We pay for convenience when it comes to food.

  • Select meals that you can prepare at home rather than ready-to-eat choices.
  • Plan to shop where prices are the best. This is often at a large store or supermarket, instead of a small market.
  • Watch for sales and coupons for foods you use often.
  • Buy produce when it is in season for the best prices and flavors. With spring upon us, it is the best time of year to buy asparagus, apricots, peas, and pineapple. You can explore a list of what is in season throughout the year here: Seasonal Produce Guide
  • Look for food grown close to home, such as farmer’s markets, and participating in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) for the real deals. You could save 20% shopping for foods grown close by. Use these resources to find markets nearest to you:

The cost of food may be soaring, but you can stay on top of it. Making small changes throughout the week can save money that will add up over time. Ask for assistance if you need food. Click here to explore resources in your community. Find more tools on our website and schedule a telephone appointment with our registered dietitians offered by LLS.


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Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDCES

Author Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDCES

Nutrition Educator Margaret Martin is a Licensed Dietitian and Nutritionist in the State of Tennessee as well as a Certified Diabetes Educator. Margaret graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics and received her Master’s Degree in Nutrition Science & Public Health from the University of Tennessee. With more than 10 years of experience in Clinical Nutrition, Margaret has also worked in the insurance industry with WellPoint Inc. and Blue Cross Blue Shield providing telephonic nutrition consultations, service assistance, and web-based nutrition education. In her free time Margaret volunteers with the American Lung Association’s annual “Lung Force Walk" in Middle Tennessee. She belongs to the Oncology Nutrition & Diabetes Care and Education Dietetic Practice Groups of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

More posts by Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDCES

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