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Posted: February 16, 2024

Diabetes Eating On A Shoestring

Diabetes Eating Shoestring

Eating for your health and your budget

Eating to control your blood glucose can seem difficult when you are on a tight budget. The good news is that there are many affordable nutritious choices. Taking time to plan and shop wisely allows you to make the most of your food dollar.

Plan ahead

Meal planning can save money and help you buy healthy foods for yourself and your family. Before you go shopping, plan your meals and snacks for the next week.

  • Check the flyer each week, for sale items to help you build your meal plan.

  • Plan for three meals at regular times each day to help control your blood glucose. Balance your meals by following the healthy plate from Canada’s Food Guide

  • Plan to have healthy snacks on hand for when you need them. Consider some portable snack options for days that you are on the go.

  • Think about what you can make yourself, since ready-to-eat foods usually cost more.

  • Reduce Food waste by using leftovers for another meal, you can also freeze and reheat leftovers on busy days.

Make a grocery list

Go to the grocery store armed with a list of the foods you will need for the next week. Following the list helps you avoid buying extra foods that you do not really need.

  • Keep a list on your fridge. Jot down items as they run low.
  • Check the fridge, freezer and cupboards to see what you have.
  • Use your meal plan to make your list.
  • Write your list according to the layout of the store, buy items that are not on your list, only if they are a very good deal.
Shop smart
  • Remember your list – tuck it in your wallet or store it on your phone.
  • Make time to grocery shop. You will do a better job of comparing prices when you are less rushed.
  • Do not shop when you are hungry or tired. Items look much more appealing when you are really hungry.
  • Spend less on highly processed foods like pop, chips, cookies and candies. They add to your food bill, provide little nutritional value, and may also raise your blood glucose.
  • Buy store brands. They are often less expensive than brand names.
  • Use the unit price shown on the shelf tags to compare the price of different sized packages. Larger packages may be a better deal, although you will only save money if you use, freeze or preserve the food before it spoils.
  • Check best before dates and plan to use products before they expire.
Try different protein sources
  • Choose more affordable options such as eggs, peanut butter, beans, lentils and other legumes are inexpensive protein foods. Use them in your meals several times a week.
  • Find recipes that use less expensive cuts of meat. Marinating, braising, or stewing can make tougher cuts more tender.
  • Use canned fish such as tuna or salmon in sandwiches, chowders or a salad.
  • Check store flyers for sales on cuts of meat that are typically more costly.

Load up on veggies and fruit

  • Veg out! Most vegetables are low in carbohydrates and do not affect your blood glucose.
  • Buy fresh vegetables and fruit when they are in season or on sale. If they are out of season, choose frozen or canned versions instead.
  • Buy fresh produce at different stages of ripeness to enjoy it all week.
  • Compare the price between fresh, frozen, and canned. They are all good choices.

Store your food wisely

Storing your groceries properly reduces food waste and saves you money. For instance, store your apples in the fridge. They soften ten times faster at room temperature ( For tips on storing fruits and vegetables, check the fruits and veggies section at

Preparing food to use later

If you buy food in bulk, or have more on hand than you can eat, prepare it for the freezer to use in the future.

  • Wash and freeze berries and fruit for use in baking and smoothies. Yogurt can be frozen to use for baking and smoothies as well!
  • Wash and freeze vegetables to put in stew, soup and casseroles. Use them to provide quick and healthy additions to your meals. For more tips on freezing food safely visit

  • When cheese is on sale, buy extra, grate it and freeze.

There is no easy solution for lowering your grocery bill. Like anything else in life, it takes a little planning, creativity and work. The rewards of better health and saving money are worth the effort.

Reviewed by: Laurie Barker Jackman, RD, a registered dietitian in Halifax, Nova Scotia and Margaret Young, RD, a registered dietitian in Kensington, Prince Edward Island.