Do you notice how quickly your money is spent when you go grocery shopping? Stores provide convenient access to foods we need to keep ourselves and our families healthy. 

Here are 6 strategies to help stretch our food budgets and better manage the money we spend. Which will you try?

  • Create a “game plan” before going to the store.  The #1 tip for stretching our grocery money is to make a list of  meals and snacks for the week before going to the store. Planning helps us to:
    • check off ingredients that you already have 
    • list the items needed to buy for each recipe or meal
    • stick to the shopping list so that you don’t add unwanted items to your shopping cart

      Try this simple Meal Plan handout  to help you get started planning your meals this week. 
  • View the store’s website before going to the store. Many stores now have their prices, specials, and sometimes even coupons on their websites.  Search for the items on your grocery list and compare prices of the different brands to know which you want to buy before you get to the store. You may be able to order online and have your groceries waiting for you at the store for little or no extra cost. This can save you time and money when you are busy.
  • Look high and low for value priced items. Stores know that people are attracted to items that are brightly colored and placed in front of them at eye-level.  The national brands often have easy-to-spot labels and are placed where they are easy to grab.  Less expensive brands of the same items are often on shelves above or below the ones with the higher prices. 
  • Use coupons to save money on bulk products. Double-check the price on the coupon to determine if it is  better than the price of the store-brands version. Coupons only help if they are for foods that your family will eat or freeze before they spoil. If the coupon requires buying two or more of the same item, make sure you really need and will use that amount.  
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables are less expensive when they are in season. Produce is in season when they are naturally ripe and ready to eat, particularly when they come from farms that are close to the store. Here’s a guide to when fruits and veggies are in season in Maryland from Maryland’s Best. You can find videos with advice on how to pick your produce from our Eat Smart YouTube channel and our friends at Maine SNAP-Ed
  • Make technology work for you. Many apps and websites can assist with grocery budgets. The MyPlate Shop Simple tool offers ideas for shopping lists, meal planning, budget-friendly recipes, nutrition information, and locations of stores and farmers markets accepting SNAP EBT benefits. Visit  for more information. 

Happy shopping!

Looking for more information on SNAP EBT benefits?  These benefits help to expand our food budgets. If you need to find benefits, Maryland Hunger Solutions has SNAP contact information, and MyMDThink has links to the SNAP application as well as  other services. 

See next week’s blog for some additional tips to save money for your family.

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This material was funded by USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - SNAP in cooperation with Maryland’s Department of Human Services and University of Maryland Extension. University programs, activities, and facilities are available to all without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, marital status, age, national origin, political affiliation, physical or mental disability, religion, protected veteran status, genetic information, personal appearance, or any other legally protected class.