At this point, we all know how vital it is to have a healthy diet to support both our physical and mental wellbeing, and that this is even more important for children. Yet the price tags of healthy food can often be intimidating when shopping on a budget. Fortunately, there are resources to help parents and child care providers ensure children are getting the balanced diet they need during their developmental years.


  • For parents, government-funded programs are available to ensure their children are properly fed during their developing years. This includes WIC, SNAP, and various school programs that focus on feeding kids before, during, and after school.
  • For child care providers, the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) for family child care providers and child care centers, provides financial reimbursement for serving nutritious meals and snacks to the kids in their care.
  • The Shop Simple with MyPlate mobile app from the U.S. Department of Agriculture helps shoppers find savings in your zip code, as well as locate stores near you that accept SNAP EBT.
  • Seasonal produce is usually cheaper. Keep up to date on what’s in season with the USDA’s Seasonal Produce Guide.


  • Create a shopping list and make your plans before you go. This can help make sure you’re making healthy choices while staying on track with your budget. Eat before shopping to help stick to your list when you are surrounded by tempting choices in a grocery store.
  • Buy fruits and vegetables when they are in season but stock up when they are on sale. Freezing produce does not take away any nutritional value and can be a good way to eat produce out of season, as well as canned fruits and vegetables.
  • Rice and pasta are inexpensive grains that are easy to prepare and add to every meal.
  • Diversify the types of meat or cuts you buy. It can be easy to default to what we know, but buying what is on sale and trying new types of protein can be beneficial. There are recipes for every type of meat, and even recipes for protein-heavy meals without meat.
  • Be sure to check the sell by date for all dairy products to make sure you are buying fresh products.
  • Check the unit price when comparing two similar items. Sometimes a larger quantity is actually less expensive in the long run.

We don’t all have to be extreme couponers to shop smart for groceries. A little planning before each trip can create an efficient and budget-friendly shopping experience that will become easier with practice.