The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

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

Serving up Savings

Serving up Savings

Dietitian Dialogues

January 29, 2012

Every January nearly half of us make at least one New Year’s Resolution with two of the most popular resolutions being to eat healthier and save money. Unfortunately by the end of January, the majority of resolution-makers have called it quits and reverted back to their former habits. Here’s how you can help shoppers stay on track with their health and budget goals to serve up a plate of healthy savings in 2012. 


While sparing time each week to review the weekly ad circular, clip a few coupons and plan a weekly menu may sound impossible, it’s well worth the time and effort that’s involved. Embarking on a trip to the supermarket without a shopping list, a meal plan or any clue of the items featured on sale is bound to result in a cartful of impulse purchases that likely can’t be transformed into a week’s worth of family meals. The added bonus is that when you have a plan you’re also less likely to dial for delivery.

Keep Portions in Control

Less is more! Utilize the new USDA MyPlate teaching tool, which shows customers how to build a balanced plate that’s heavy on whole grains, fruits and vegetables and lighter on meat and poultry. Doing so loosens the strain on their food budget while also supporting the New Year’s resolution of healthier eating habits. 

Cook Once, Eat Twice

Show customers how easy it is to stretch four standard serving recipes into six servings or more with affordable and nutritious ingredients like whole-grain brown rice, beans, canned tomatoes or frozen vegetables. These ingredients can easily be incorporated into soup, stew or casserole recipes and the leftovers can be enjoyed for a reheat-and-eat lunch or dinner, or frozen for up to four months.

Do it Yourself 

While cutting corners in the kitchen offers convenience, it often costs more too. Limit purchases of packaged convenience frozen meals and side dishes, ready-to-eat entrees and recipe-ready ingredients and prepare recipes from scratch. Taking meal prep into your own hands allows you to personalize dishes to meet your family’s health goals for calories, fat and added salt and helps you save at checkout.

Make it Meatless

Open shoppers’ eyes to see beyond meat items as the only centerpieces of the plate. Cutting back on meats will help to make your wallet fatter, and may make your waistline thinner. Start by encouraging them to add beans and lentils, nuts or soy into meat-containing dishes, while gradually decreasing the amount of meat on the dinner table.

Shop Private Brands

You know your retailer’s private brands offer great taste and quality at a fraction of the cost of national brands. But do your customer’s know that? Include new, unique or simply your favorite private brand products as featured ingredients in recipes, cooking demos, coupon programs and sampling events as a way to encourage trial.

Take Inventory

It’s easy to become overwhelmed when shopping and purchase items you already have at home. Before heading out, shoppers should be encouraged to scan their refrigerator and cabinets to prevent the purchase of doubles. And they should also check the “best if used by” or “use by” dates on canned and jarred foods, dried pasta, rice and noodles, oils and dried herbs and spices that have an extended shelf life to determine if replacements are needed. Keeping a supply of these versatile ingredients on hand at all times helps consumers create superfast meals with ease. 

Beth Stark, RD, LDN, is a Registered Dietitian and Healthy Living Coordinator for Weis Markets, Inc., a regional grocery store chain with 164 stores in five states. In this role, Beth provides nutrition and wellness education to Weis Markets customers and is a key contributor to the Weis Healthy Bites™ program. Beth is a Pennsylvania Licensed Dietitian-Nutritionist, an active member of the American Dietetic Association and is currently serving on the board of the Pennsylvania Dietetic Association.

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