Four Ways to Put Your Diet on a Budget


According to a 2022 study by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)1, the average monthly cost for a low-cost meal plan for a family of four2 in the United States is $1,009, and a liberal food plan rings in at $1,521 per month. With health care costs (insurance premiums, doctor bills, prescriptions) rising, shopping smart can help you cut your grocery bill and improve your health.

1. Make a Plan

Taking time to meal prep and plan can save you hundreds of dollars and calories. Why? Because without a plan, you may end up with food but no meals or relying on expensive, often unhealthy prepackaged items instead.

Build a meal around what you already have. It’s easy to forget what’s already in your pantry or freezer. Instead, use healthy cooking websites or cookbooks for meal ideas and plan your week in advance. Then make a shopping list and steer away from impulse shopping — which often leads to impulse buying.

2. Work the System

Grocery stores are designed to overload your senses and entice you to purchase higher-cost items. That’s why the highest-priced items are generally stocked at eye level. So go in with a plan and look high and low for savings.

Clipping coupons have gone digital, just like grocery shopping. Whether you’re shopping in person or ordering groceries online, make sure to search the store’s website or app for sales and coupons to attach to your order.

When comparing product options, always compare unit pricing, which is usually on the shelf sticker below the product. That will help you make sure you’re comparing apples to apples when sizing up the products.

Don’t be Afraid to Store Up

Think about shopping for non-perishable items in monthly cycles instead of weekly. For example, keep an eye out for sales and coupons to stock up on toilet paper, cleaning supplies or toiletries in advance.

Bulk bins at the natural or whole food store can help you save by storing up staples like spices, grains, pasta, dried fruit and nuts so you can have them on hand to make easy meals throughout the week. Alternately, you can use bulk bins to your advantage by buying the exact amount you need of an infrequently-used ingredient so that you don’t waste food or your money.

3. Keep It Local

The best-kept secret for savings (and health) may be in your own neighborhood. Farmers markets can provide produce that offers great nutrition, taste and quality — and because they’re local, a lower price tag. So make a day trip or family activity out of visiting the farmers market and experience the goodness of fresh produce straight from the source.

Consider your hometown butchers. Meat is often one of the biggest expenses on your grocery bill, so buying beef in bulk (such as a quarter of beef) from these providers can save you a lot. Search online for local ranchers and butchers or ask around at the farmers market.

You can take control of your grocery bills. With a bit of planning, discipline and time, you’ll save money and calories — which can improve all your bottom lines.

GuideStone® cares about your health. We believe that when the body of Christ is healthy, it’s free to transform the world. That’s why each of our health plans includes wellness tools and resources designed to keep you healthy and ready to serve.

See why GuideStone’s Christian health plans are a good fit for your team.

1United States Department of Agriculture
2 A reference family consists of a male and female (ages 20-50) and two children, (ages 6-8 and 9-11).