Balanced Eating on a Budget – The 3 P’s


Do you find yourself constantly overspending on your food budget, or eating the same recipes over and over to stay within your budget? Does the question “What’s for dinner?” cause a panic in your household, followed by getting take-out or fast food? Eating healthy on a budget doesn’t have to be stressful or boring! Just remember the “3 P’s”: Plan, Purchase and Prepare!


  • Hold a weekly planning meeting in your household to determine what everyone wants to eat.  Try to choose one food item to make multiple meals out of.  This is also a good way to make sure that you don’t plan a time intensive meal on the same night as a sporting event or after school program!
  • Look through your weekly sales ad to shop what is on sale.  You can cut your food budget up to 30% by purchasing the sale items!
  • Look for recipes on, in your latest copy of Savory Fast, Fresh and Easy™ magazine or on the kiosk at your local Martin’s.  Remember to plan balanced meals around MyPlate!
  • Check your refrigerator and pantry to see what you have in stock before you make your list. This is also a good way to make sure that everything is within use-by dates.


  • Make sure that you have a high energy snack before shopping to ensure you make good choices at the store. Choose a snack that contains fiber and protein, like an apple with peanut butter.
  • Choose MARTIN’S Own Brands, including Nature’s Promise and Simply Enjoy, for the same taste and quality of national brands at a lower price.
  • Buy in bulk. You will notice if you compare unit prices, that you will almost always save money when buying the larger package.  This helps when preparing food ahead of time.  You can make your own portion-controlled snacks for a fraction of the price, too.
  • Buy produce when it is in season and typically less expensive or choose canned and frozen fruits and vegetables.
  • Enjoy some beans. These plant based proteins are less expensive than animal proteins, versatile and bring other nutrients to the plate like fiber.  Try black bean burgers, red beans and rice or a bean chili to mix it up.
  • Make sure to stock up on shelf stable items like dried or canned beans, brown and wild rice or canned chicken or fish packed in water for quick meals!


  • By prepping foods like fruits and vegetables on your own, you save a lot of money with just a bit more work.  Make sure to keep these items in a sealed container near the front of your fridge so you see them first!
  • Use less expensive cuts of red meat, like sirloin, for casseroles or crock pot meals.
  • Make multiple meals out of one main ingredient, using the cook once eat twice technique.  If you bake a chicken, you can have leftovers on top of a salad, in tacos, or in soup – get creative!
  • Get the kids involved to save time preparing foods, or have them plan and prepare a meal according to their own food budget.  When they get involved they are more likely to try new foods as well!
  • Prepare meals ahead of time for the week, or freeze individual portions for quick weekday meals in the future.

By planning ahead, you can ensure a balanced meal that doesn’t break the bank.  Preparing your own meals at home saves money and gives you control over the ingredients in your meal.  For more healthy tips, visit MARTIN’S website or call to schedule a consultation with me, or with Valerie Pulley, MARTIN’S in-store nutritionist on Richmond’s West End.

CarolineRoessler - resizedCaroline Roessler, MS, RDN is an in-store nutritionist for MARTIN’S Food Markets’ new Charter Colony location in Midlothian.  Her past experience includes working as the pediatric program coordinator for an Ohio university, where she provided nutrition education to children ages pre-K to high school in fun and interactive ways like nutrition festivals and hands-on cooking.  She believes that food should be good for us, and taste great too.  She is committed to offering practical advice based on up-to-date medical information to help families make sustainable healthy changes to their lifestyle.  To get a plan tailored to you, call Caroline at 804-794-7074 or email her at to set up a one-on-one consultation.  


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