Food is expensive, but you can find tips to help you eat well on a tight budget. For example:
- Prepare stews and casseroles to help stretch expensive food items and provide meals for multiple days.
- Choose fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season. Healthy foods that tend to be reasonably priced and available year-round include apples, bananas, potatoes, carrots, and greens.
- Buy groceries when you are not hungry or rushed.
- Avoid convenience foods, such as frozen dinners, pre-cut vegetables, and instant oatmeal—you pay more for convenience.
If you are struggling to put food on the table, consider programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and school meal programs for children.
Price Look-Up codes (PLUs) are printed on the small stickers attached to fresh produce at the grocery store. These codes are used to make check-out and inventory control easier for the store. They also tell you key pieces of information about the produce, such as how it was grown.
- Conventionally grown food can be identified by a four-digit number, such as 4011 for bananas.
- Organic food is identified by a a five-digit number that begins with a nine, such as 94011 for bananas.
- Genetically modified food is indicated by a five-digit number that begins with an eight, such as 84805 for a vine ripe tomato.
PLU codes are created by an international body and can be searched online.
If the sticker also has the USDA organic seal, then you know it’s been certified by the government through the National Organic Program. To be certified, products must be inspected and meet the USDA regulations. Learn more about organic label.
Many children receive free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch at school, but what happens when school lets out? The Summer Food Service Program helps fill that nutrition gap and make sure children can get the nutritious meals they need.
Image description: These U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigators are “tasting” tea. The Tea Importation Act of 1897 was enacted to improve the quality of America’s imported tea, described as “little better than hay or catnip.” Organoleptic experts at FDA sampled lots of every tea entering the country for nearly a century. FDA’s last tea taster, Robert Dick, retired soon after Congress rescinded the law in 1996.
Photo from the FDA
The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) is a federally funded nutrition education program conducted through the Cooperative Extension Service in every state and US territory.
The program serves limited resource families and school-age youth, including those who qualify for other food assistance programs such as Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Electronic Benefits Transfer, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Head Start, or free and/or reduced lunches.
Through the program, you learn how to make a food budget and how to select foods that will satisfy your family’s nutritional needs.
One EFNEP program in North Carolina showed families how to utilize all available resources for purchasing fruits and vegetables on a budget by using WIC Farmers’ Market coupons.
After completing the program, one participant said, “Since I have made changes in how I prepare and choose foods I have lost weight and have felt better and healthier. My family enjoys the food more than they have in the past, and the changes I learned in this class were not hard to do. It just took some time and practice.”
Learn more about EFNEP and how it can help your family.
To learn about other free resources to help you no matter what your financial situation, sign up for our e-mail list or visit our page.