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Now Serving: Tasty, Healthful Meals on a Budget Week 2: Grocery Shopping Tips, Menus and Recipes (FN1384)

Menu planning can help you serve your family healthier meals and it can help you save money at the grocery store. After Planning your menus, the next step is developing a grocery list so you have all the necessary foods for each meal. This is the second in a series of publications to help you eat well but spend less at the grocery store. It includes grocery shopping tips, sample menus and recipes that you can adapt to meet your family's tastes.

Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., Food and Nutrition Specialist

Grete Peterson, Former Program Assistant; Tera Sandvik, R.D., Former Project Assistant


Why Write a Grocery List?

When you write down the food items you need, you can cut down on trips to the grocery store. This saves you time and could save you money on gas, too. When you buy only foods on your list, you will be able estimate the amount of money you spend and avoid impulse buys.

Use Coupons Wisely

Using coupons can save you money. Use coupons only to purchase foods you were planning to buy anyway. Sort coupons by food category and be aware of the expiration dates on the coupons.

Food Safety Tips

Keep food safe from the grocery store to your home. Shop for milk, dairy, meat and frozen items last so they are not in room temperature for an extended amount of time. If you travel a distance for groceries, bring a cooler filled with ice to transport perishable foods (such as milk, meat) on warm days.

Consider these tips as you shop for groceries:

  • Produce: Inspect fruits and vegetables and avoid ones that are bruised or damaged.
  • Meats: Avoid cross-contamination. Put meat packages in a plastic bag (where available) in your cart. Keep meat packages separate from ready-to-eat foods to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Eggs: Open the carton. Be sure the eggs are not cracked.

What Do the Dates On Food Products Mean?

Be sure to write the date of purchase on the foods you buy and arrange your cupboards “first in, first out.” In other words, place the oldest foods in the front so you use them first.

  • Sell-by date: Stores should pull items from the shelves if they are not sold by this date. The products are still good for a while if they’re stored properly at home.
  • Use-by date: Food is guaranteed to be at high quality until this date. Although the foods are still safe to consume after the date, these items may have lower quality.
  • Expiration date: Consume food or beverage by this date or throw it.

Consider these tips. Which do you plan to use?

  • Read your recipes and menus to see what you need.
  • Write down all of the items you need based on your menu plans.
  • Check your shelves and refrigerator for items you already have.
  • Look in the newspapers or magazines for sales or coupons, but use coupons only for foods that you plan to use.
  • Keep a grocery list on your refrigerator. Add items to the list as you need them.

MyPlate Equivalents

Size up your portions with these visual clues.
As shown, one-half of a baseball is the same size as ½ cup mashed potatoes.

Size Comparisons

What’s Your MyPlate Plan?

You can find the latest nutrition recommendations.

Each person has different needs based on gender, age and level of physical activity. Learn what each of your family members needs at his or her particular calorie levels by visiting the website or contacting your local Extension agent for “MyPlate Plans” handouts for different age groups. The MyPlate Plans are available online.

MyPlate

Example: MyPlate Plan and three-day menu plan for a 10-year-old male who gets more than 60 minutes of physical activity per day*

MyPlate Plan*

Grains                        7 ounces
Vegetables                 3 cups
Fruit                           2 cups
Dairy                          3 cups
Protein Foods             6 ounces

Three-day Menu Plan for a 10-year-old Male*

3 Day Meal Plan

Weekly Meal Planner

Recipes

 Key to Abbreviations

tsp. = teaspoon
Tbsp. = tablespoon
c. = cup
oz. = ounce
pkg. = package
g = grams
mg = milligrams
lb. = pound

Taco Sticks

Equipment you will need
• can opener
• measuring spoons
• knife
• mixing bowl
• fork
• mixing spoon
• cutting board

Ingredients
1 c. pinto or kidney beans, drained
1 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. garlic powder
4 stalks of celery
1 c. salsa

With a fork, mash the beans with the chili powder, garlic powder and salt. Try to make it smooth. Wash celery. Cut each stalk of celery into three pieces. Spread bean mixture on the celery sticks. Top with some salsa and serve.

Serves four. Per serving: 100 calories, 18 g carbohydrate, 0.5 g fat, 7 g fiber and 580 mg sodium

Marinated Salad

Equipment you will need
• sharp knife
• measuring cup
• mixing bowl
• mixing spoon
• plastic wrap or cover
• cutting board

Ingredients
4 c. vegetables, cut up
¾ c. Italian salad dressing

Use at least three kinds of vegetables. Choose what you like or what costs less at the store. Here are some ideas: broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, cucumbers, radishes, olives, zucchini, cherry tomatoes.

Put cut vegetables in a bowl. Pour salad dressing over the vegetables and mix. Cover and put in the refrigerator. Will keep for three or four days.

Serves four. Per serving: 100 calories, 9 g carbohydrate, 7 g fat, 2 g fiber and 390 mg sodium

Cooked Cereal*

Equipment you will need
• measuring cup
• measuring spoon
• cooking pot with lid
• mixing spoon

Ingredients for each serving

Cereal

1. Measure water into cooking pot. (Add ¼ teaspoon salt, if you like.)

2. Heat to boiling. For cornmeal, heat only 1 cup of water and mix the rest of the water with the cornmeal.

3. Slowly pour and stir the cereal into the boiling water.

4. Cover the pot and turn the heat down to medium.

5. Stir a few times so the cereal will not stick.

6. Cook for the time listed above for each cereal.

Makes about 1 cup cooked cereal.

Cornbread Burger Bake

 Equipment you will need
• egg beater or fork
• measuring cup
• measuring spoons
• knife
• bowl
• mixing spoon
• frying pan
• cheese grater
• baking dish

Ingredients
1 egg, beaten
½ c. cornmeal
1 tsp. baking soda
½ can (1 c.) cream-style corn*
½ c. milk
1 Tbsp. oil
¾ lb. ground beef
½ c. chopped onion
¼ c. chopped green pepper
1 tsp. chili powder
1 c. grated cheese

In a bowl, mix the egg, cornmeal, baking soda, corn, milk and oil. Set aside. Cook the ground beef. Drain the fat. Mix the onion, green pepper and chili powder with the meat. Pour half of the cornmeal mixture in to a greased 1-quart baking dish. Cover with the meat mixture and the grated cheese. Pour the rest of the cornmeal mixture on top. Bake in oven at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.

Serves four. Per serving: 380 calories, 26 g carbohydrate, 19 g fat, 3 g fiber and 760 mg sodium

*Freeze the rest of the corn or add 1 cup of milk to make two servings of soup the next day.

Coleslaw

Equipment you will need
• knife
• grater
• measuring cup
• measuring spoons
• mixing bowl
• mixing spoon
• serving bowl

Ingredients
3-4 c. cabbage, shredded fine
1 c. grated carrots
1/3 c. mayonnaise or salad dressing
1 Tbsp. vinegar
2 tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. celery seed (if you like)

Wash, peel and grate carrots. Wash and shred cabbage. Put shredded cabbage and carrots in a serving bowl. To make dressing, put mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt and celery seed in bowl and stir until mixed well. (Make sure the sugar is dissolved). Pour the dressing over the cabbage and mix well.

Serves eight (enough for two meals). Per serving: 25 calories, 6 g carbohydrate, 0 g fat, 2 g fiber and 170 mg sodium

Easy Chicken or Turkey Potpie

Equipment you will need
• sharp knife
• cutting board
• can opener
• saucepan
• skillet
• casserole dish
• measuring cup
• mixing spoons

Ingredients
1 c. cut-up cooked turkey or chicken
1 (16 oz.) bag frozen vegetables, thawed
1 (10.75 oz.) can reduced-fat condensed cream of chicken soup
1 c. biscuit mix (such as Bisquick)
½ c. low-fat milk or dry milk equivalent
1 egg

Preheat oven to 400 F. Stir turkey or chicken, vegetables and soup in an ungreased 2-quart casserole dish. Stir the remaining ingredients until blended. Pour over the turkey or chicken mixture. Bake uncovered about 30 minutes to an internal temperature of 165 F, until the crust is golden brown.

Serves six. Per serving: 215 calories, 27 g carbohydrate, 5 g fat, 3 g fiber and 415 mg sodium

Tacos

Equipment you will need
• sharp knife
• cutting board
• frying pan
• can opener
• cooking spoon
• fork, potato masher or blender

Ingredients
½ lb. ground beef
2 (16 oz.) cans kidney, pinto or red beans
1 onion, chopped
1 pkg. taco seasoning or 1 Tbsp. chili powder
½ c. grated cheese
1 c. chopped lettuce
2 chopped tomatoes
8 soft tortillas (corn or flour)
Salsa

Chop onion. Brown onion and ground beef in frying pan. Pour off the fat. Drain one can beans and mash with a fork or potato masher, or blend in a blender. Drain other can of beans and add it and mashed beans to ground beef. Mix well. Fill warm, soft tortillas with ground beef and beans, grated cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. Serve with salsa

Serves four. Per serving: 660 calories, 85 g carbohydrate, 18 g fat, 24 g fiber and 610 mg sodium

Tuna Salsa Wrap

Equipment you will need
• can opener
• measuring cup
• measuring spoons
• 2 bowls
• mixing spoons
• baking dish
• cheese grater
• knife
• rolling pin

Ingredients
1 (7 oz.) can tuna, drained and flaked
¼ c. light mayonnaise
1 tsp. yellow mustard
½ c. salsa
¼ c. shredded carrots
6 large corn or flour tortillas
1½ c. shredded lettuce
¾ c. shredded cheddar cheese

Warm tortillas according to package instructions. In a small bowl, combine the first five ingredients in the order given. Mix well. Place tortilla on a cutting board or other surface. In the center of the tortilla, place an equal portion of shredded lettuce and tuna mixture. Top with a pinch of cheese. Fold in one end and tightly roll the tortilla over the ingredients. Place in baking pan and warm in oven until cheese is slightly melted.

Serves six. Per serving: 362 calories, 41 g carbohydrate, 14 g fat, 2.5 g fiber and 838 mg sodium

Scalloped Potato Bake

Equipment you will need
• knife
• can opener
• measuring cup
• measuring spoons
• mixing bowl
• mixing spoon
• baking dish
• foil or lid for baking dish

 Ingredients
4 c. potatoes, sliced thin
¼ c. chopped onion
½ lb. turkey ham, cut in pieces
1 can cream of mushroom or celery soup
½ can water
¼ tsp. pepper

Peel and slice potatoes and onions. Make layers of potatoes, onion and turkey ham in a greased baking dish. Mix soup, water and pepper in a bowl. Pour this mixture over the potatoes. Cover the baking dish and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for one hour. Take the cover off and bake for 30 minutes more.

Serves four. Per serving: 160 calories, 33 g carbohydrate, 1.5 g fat, 4 g fiber and 280 mg sodium

Spanish Macaroni

Equipment you will need
• knife
• can opener
• frying pan with lid
• mixing spoon

Ingredients
½ lb. ground beef
½ green pepper, chopped
½ c. chopped onion
2 c. water
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (28 oz.) can tomatoes (or 2 15-oz. cans)
1½ c. macaroni, not cooked
1 Tbsp. chili powder

Cook the ground beef in a frying pan. Drain the fat. Add all the other foods and mix with the meat. Bring to a boil. Then turn the heat down to low. Cover. Cook on low heat until the macaroni is done (about 10 to 15 minutes). Stir one or two times so the macaroni will not stick to the pan.

Serves four. Per serving: 280 calories, 43 g carbohydrate, 3.5 g fat, 5 g fiber and 820 mg sodium

For a change: Add frozen or canned vegetables, such as broccoli, corn, kidney beans or mixed vegetables. Try grated cheese on top before serving.

Stir-fry Vegetables

Use this recipe in place of canned vegetables for a change of pace.

Equipment you will need
• knife
• measuring cup
• measuring spoon
• frying pan or large saucepan
• mixing spoon
• cheese grater

Ingredients
2 or 3 c. of cut vegetables. (Choose whatever vegetables you like or what costs less at the store. Frozen vegetables are good, too.) Here are some ideas: cabbage, carrots, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, celery, snap beans, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, green pepper
1-2 Tbsp. oil or margarine
salt, pepper or other seasoning to your taste
1 c. grated cheese, if you like

Heat the oil in a large frying pan or saucepan. Add vegetables. Stir or toss them over medium heat for three to five minutes or until they are just getting tender. If you like the vegetables more tender, add 2 to 3 tablespoons water, cover tightly and cook a little longer. Stir in seasonings. If you want, top the vegetables with grated cheese and let it melt a little.

Serves four. Per serving: 110 calories, 9 g carbohydrate, 7 g fat, 1 g fiber and 15 mg sodium

Tuna Salad Sandwich 

Equipment you will need
• cutting board
• can opener
• small sharp knife
• small bowl
• measuring cup
• mixing spoon

Ingredients
1 (7 oz.) can tuna
1 stalk celery, chopped
¼ c. mayonnaise*
8 slices bread

Open tuna can and drain tuna. Put tuna in small bowl. Wash and chop celery on cutting board. Measure ¼ cup mayonnaise. Add celery and mayonnaise to tuna in bowl. Mix well. Place four slices of bread on cutting board. Put one-fourth of tuna mix on each slice. Spread tuna over bread and put another slice of bread on top. Cut sandwiches in half and serve.

Serves four. Per serving: 210 calories, 25 g carbohydrate, 3 g fat, 4 g fiber and 520 mg sodium

*To cut calories and fat, use nonfat or low-fat mayonnaise, or use half nonfat yogurt.

 Grocery List

This material was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Food Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP provides nutrition assistance to people with a low income. It can help you buy nutritious foods for a better diet. To find out more, contact your county social services office.

Visit the NDSU Extension Service website for parent/caregiver information, recipes and educational activities for children.

 Reviewed August 2016

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