Eating well is everything. We are here to help you bring delicious, affordable and healthy meals to your table.
Treat your kitchen as if it is your own family restaurant. Start by creating a budget. Then, get the kids involved by having them help you select recipes, plan meals for the week, and create a shopping list.
A shopping list will help you focus on what you need at the moment, save money and waste less. If you like to write your list on paper, take a picture of it with your smartphone in the event you leave your paper list at home. Or, start a habit of entering your shopping list in your smartphone so you have it whenever you go out.
- Go through your cabinets, refrigerator and freezer to see what you already have on hand and use that as the starting point to build your menu
- Think of your plate as you plan meals. Keep in mind that half of your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables.
- Think about what recipes make for great leftovers and make extra to save time and money.
- Consider lower cost plant-based protein sources, such as legumes (beans, lentils and dried peas), tofu and nut butters that offer great taste at a good price.
Figuring out how to budget for groceries is different for everyone. Try Iowa State University’s Grocery Budget Calculator as a way compare current spending with results that are based on the latest prices from the USDA’s Low-Cost Food Plan.
- Think about your family’s favorite meals and stock up on those ingredients, especially when they go on sale.
- Look through the coupon mailers and websites, and grocery store apps for deals. Plan your meals around foods that you can pick up on sale. Use coupons only for items that you know you’ll use.
- Join your store’s loyalty program so you can get members only special offers and discounts.
- Fruit and veggies are usually cheaper when they’re in season. When fresh fruits and veggies are out of season, buy frozen or canned instead. To find out what’s in season, visit the Michigan Grown, Michigan Great website.
- Choose store brands. Most stores offer their own brand of products that often cost less than name brands.
- Bring your shopping list with you.
- Shop after you eat, so you aren’t tempted to make unhealthy choices and buy foods you don’t need.
- Save money by comparing unit prices of similar items to get the best deal. We like this free app Spend Smart. Eat Smart. for quick comparisons when shopping.
- When shopping at your local farmers market, check to see if they have a Farmers Market Food Navigator on site to explain the food assistance programs available at the market. Farmers Market Food Navigators also provide food tastings, recipe ideas, strategies to help families eat more seasonal produce, and help maximize your food dollars.
Once you’ve brought your groceries home, the fun begins. You don’t need fancy tools or equipment to make a great meal. If you are new to cooking and looking for ways to get more comfortable in the kitchen, visit Nutrition.gov to learn cooking basics, meal prep, ingredient substitutions, cooking methods, slow cooker meals, how to reduce food waste and more.
We have also put together a list of some of our favorite recipe websites filled with easy, affordable, delicious and healthy recipes that don’t require a ton of ingredients or advanced skills. Happy cooking!
Farmers Market Food Navigators
Farmers Market Food Navigators are working in communities from Escanaba to Detroit. In addition, shoppers can stretch their food assistance dollars by using Double Up Food Bucks, WIC and Senior Project FRESH/Market FRESH coupons. Be sure to inquire with your Food Navigator to learn which food assistance benefits are accepted at your farmers market.
Click/tap to Find a Farmers Market Food Navigator near you.
Become a Michigan Farm to Family CSA Member
In a typical Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, people join as CSA members by making a financial investment and buy a “share” of the farm’s production before each growing season. In return, they receive regular distributions of the farm’s bounty throughout the season
Through Michigan Farm to Family: CSA, participating families do not have to pay any costs up front, will pay a significantly reduced price, and will pay upon pick up using SNAP benefits. For example, if the CSA member share is $20 per box of fresh produce, participating families pay just $5 with their SNAP benefits, and Michigan Fitness Foundation pays the remaining $15. Tips about how to prepare, cook, and store fresh fruits vegetables are included in the program too.
Click/tap to join a Michigan Farm to Family: CSA near you.
Michigan Food Pantries have nourishing food, and they are open to everyone. There are about 800 food pantries, soup kitchens, and food shelves operating in spaces like local places of worship, community centers and nonprofits around Michigan.
HSD Food Resources (links to new window) is a directory of resources across America, with a special focus for those who are living in emergency shelters, transitional housing or are experiencing homelessness.
Note: Food banks do not directly serve people in need, they supply food to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, etc.