Mountaintop Medicine: Nutrition Notes — Ways to Lower your Grocery Bill

This week on Nutrition Notes, I want to discuss grocery shopping and how to save money on the bill. I am sure we are all feeling the effects of inflation right now and it is certainly noticeable in our grocery store bills. We are currently seeing significantly higher prices on staple foods like eggs, grains, and milk. However, there are ways to help spend less on groceries and still put nutritious meals on the table.

Leah Gardner, EPH Registered Dietitian

Here are some tips to cut back on costs at the grocery store:

1. Make a plan

Plan your meals and create a shopping list. Have a few breakfasts, lunches, and dinners planned. This helps you avoid impulse buys and ensures you only purchase what you need. You are more likely to use what you buy and what you already have on hand, which helps to cut back on costs even more. It is estimated that the average household throws away 30% of the food that they purchase.

2. Shop seasonally

Fruits and vegetables that are in season are typically more affordable and taste better too! You can even opt for frozen or canned options (watch out for added sugars and salt) to save even more.

3. Know what expiration dates mean

Other than infant formula (which gets a safety date), foods are labeled with a “best if used by,” “sell by,” or “freeze by” date that indicates freshness and quality using standards set by the USDA. You do not need to treat these dates as hard and fast rules to throw away food. When food begins to grow mold or turns rancid- this is a sign that the food is expired and should be thrown away.

4. Avoid shopping when hungry

Shopping on an empty stomach can lead to impulse purchases and overspending.

5. Buy in bulk

Purchasing items in bulk can often be more cost effective, especially for non-perishable items like grains, pasta, and canned goods. They can be especially helpful for large families who need to stock up on a lot of food. You may find that it makes sense to buy certain staple foods in bulk because of the significant cost savings. You do not have to have a membership to a warehouse

grocery store like Costco or Sams Club or a lot of space to store extra food at home, just buying larger sizes at your regular store can help you save.

6. Look for sales and coupons

Keep an eye out for weekly sales and clip coupons to save money on your grocery purchases. I like to look at what is on sale first, then add some of those foods into my meal plan for the week. This way, I am not adding lots of extra foods just because they are on sale.

7. Buy generic or store brands

Often, generic brands offer similar quality at a lower price compared to name brands.

8. Cook at home

Preparing meals at home is not only healthier, but it can also save you money compared to eating out or ordering takeout.

I offer outpatient nutrition counseling and education services at Estes Park Health. If you are interested, contact your healthcare provider for a referral. If you have any questions or if there are any nutrition-related topics that you would like me to discuss here on Nutrition Notes, please reach out at