Ask a Nutritionist: How Can I Reduce My Grocery Bill?

Categories: Blog, Common Concerns

Joanne M. Gallivan, M.S., R.D.N. is a registered Dietitian Nutritionist and volunteer at Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic. Prior to joining the Clinic, she served as the Director of the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP).

Many always ask: How can I reduce my grocery bill? You don’t have to spend a lot of money to eat a full and balanced diet, and taking a few simple steps can help reduce your grocery bill and cut down on food waste. The average family of four in the U.S. throws away about $1,484 worth of food and beverages every year. Planning your meals by using the food you already have and using leftovers and storing them the right way can go a long way to save you money and time.

Make a list or use a menu planning app when you go to the grocery store – after checking to see what you already have at home – and use these foods first to plan for upcoming meals. Learn what the dates on food packaging means. The “sell date” tells the store when they can no longer sell the item for inventory control purposes. The “best if used by” date is when the product is past its best quality. Both dates do not reflect the safety of the product so you do not have to throw the food away. But if you have any concerns about the food’s safety, it’s best not to eat it.

Use leftovers to save time and money – and keeping portion sizes in mind while you dine will ensure you have another meal leftover. Refrigerate leftovers right away to avoid contamination. Don’t leave food out for more than two hours or one hour during warmer temperatures. Freeze leftovers as soon as you can if you don’t plan to eat within a few days. Use heavy freezer paper, freezer bags or foil. Date the items and use the oldest food first.

One last tip? Be sure to take advantage of your local farmer’s market, which offer the best in-season produce for less and support local farmers!

Joanne M. Gallivan, M.S., R.D.N. is a registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She served as the Director of the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) in the Office of Communication and Public Liaison for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from 1997-2016.  Previously, Ms. Gallivan has served as project manager for NIDDK’s Weight-Control Information Network (WIN), a national source of information on weight control, obesity, and weight-related nutritional disorders for health professionals and the public; as Contract Manager for the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s National Cholesterol Education Program and Obesity Education Initiative, and as Director of the Prince George’s County Health Department Nutrition Division located in Maryland.

Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic is a free clinic in Charleston, SC, that provides free medical care to eligible patients, just like any family practitioner or internist. The Free Clinic serves uninsured adults living at or below 299 % of the Federal poverty level who live or work on Johns, James, & Wadmalaw Island or Folly Beach. You can follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.