The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

Becoming More Saver-Savvy

Becoming More Saver-Savvy

Dietitian Dialogues

November 23, 2008

As Americans struggle in this tight economy and reduce spending on entertainment, dining out, travel, clothing and other “extras,” one thing remains constant: we all have to eat. Food provides energy, nutrition, enjoyment and gives us a reason to gather family and friends around the table.

As purse strings tighten, food budgets are also decreasing, presenting the concern that the current, not-so-stellar American diet will decrease in quality even more. It’s time to quell the myth that a healthy diet is more expensive than a less healthy diet.

At Shaw’s and Star Markets in New England, my role as a Registered Dietitian and Wellness Coach is to guide our customers towards making healthy choices for themselves and their families. Prior to the current economic downturn, budget shopping was not at the forefront of most health messaging to consumers. Now, it is crucial that the nutrition communications delivered through the Shaw’s weekly circular, Shaw’s Wellbeing monthly newsletters, Wellbeing website( and other media keep today’s family finances as a priority.

Here’s a look at some of the central messages I will provide for customers looking to save money while providing good nutrition for their family:

• Shop the sales. Pick up the supermarket weekly circular and plan the meals for the week. Make the shopping list accordingly and stick to the list. Clip coupons for products that you’ve listed. Spending just a few minutes with your scissors can translate into big savings at the register.
• Include own brand (store brand) products on the shopping list. Own brand products can save a customer 10 to 25% versus national brand equivalent without sacrificing quality. At Shaw’s our Wild Harvest™ natural and organic, Culinary Circle™, Home Life™ and Shopper’s Value™ lines deliver great products at lower cost than brand names. 
• Go meatless once or twice a week. Every meal should incorporate some protein, but that protein does not always need to come from meat, fish or poultry sources. Nuts, nut butters, beans, soybeans, tofu and quinoa (a high protein grain) are great options and pair well with vegetables, carbohydrates and various sauces.
• Eating well to help reduce the risk of cold and flu. Keeping your immune system in tip-top shape will help ward off colds and thus reduce the cost of lost work days, prescriptions, doctor’s visits and more. 
• Pack a nutrient punch. Now, more than ever, look for nutrient rich foods. Nutrient rich foods pack the most nutrition for the calories provided. These foods include colorful fruits and vegetables, whole, fortified and fiber-rich grain foods, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, beans and nuts.
• Buy and cook in bulk. Especially for cupboard classics like brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, beans, potatoes and cereals. When on sale, stock up. Also, cook in bulk and freeze portions in small freezer safe containers for future meals. 
• Soup and stew it up. Broth-based soups and stews packed with beans and vegetables (frozen or fresh) are filling and inexpensive to make. They also store and freeze well and can provide meals for multiple days. Pair with whole-grain bread for a warming winter dinner.
• Swap the buffet-sized plates for smaller plates. Use a smaller plate and smaller serving spoons and chances are you will be likely to eat less, but still be satisfied on fewer calories. Believe it or not, eyes can play tricks on our minds and stomachs. Leftovers for tomorrow’s lunches!
• Get creative. Healthy meals on a budget can be delicious, as long as customers have unique solutions to prepare these meals. Remember, Americans are used to dining out and eating restaurant quality meals. Our Get Inspired™ program ( provides fast, fresh, fool-proof recipes in 30 minutes or less. Customers who sign up for Get Inspired receive weekly internet coupons to use in store. We’ve also just launched a line of own-brand Culinary Circle™ chef-inspired items, including marinades, sauces and desserts. Items like these are perfect for entertaining, but mindful of your budget.
• Use store resources. At Shaw’s and Star Markets, we strive to be a one-stop-shop for our customers in all areas of health. We have a Registered Dietitian, fitness experts and SHAW’S OSCO™ pharmacists on hand as expert resources for our customers.

As we travel this economic road together, supermarket dietitians and other food industry professionals will need to adopt with the changing financial landscape and provide our shoppers with timely solutions to better health and wellbeing. Armed with a cornucopia of knowledge and expertise, I am confident that we can do just that.

Jennifer Shea, MS, MPH, RD is the Wellness Coach and Program Manager for the Wellbeing Program at Shaw’s Supermarket. The Wellbeing program gives Shaw’s customers simple solutions to everyday living in the following areas: culinary, health, energy and style.

As a nutritionist working for a supermarket, you have a unique outlook on how retailers are increasing health awareness at the store level and the kind of questions that shoppers ask. Each month, we'll be featuring a guest column, written by a nutritionist, that communicates this point of view on a variety of topics. And we want to hear from you. If you are a supermarket nutritionist interested in sharing your perspective and insights, we would love to help you share your thoughts! Please contact Allison Bloom at