Wholesome Eating

A balanced, healthy diet can be delicious and affordable; we will provide information on where to look and how to prepare it. We’ll offer places to shop, tools for budget savings, and tasty recipes and tips on eating well.

Where to Shop for Healthy Food on a Budget

When there isn’t a large grocery store with sales and specials close by, it can feel as if healthy food at an affordable price is nearly impossible, but you can find good deals on good food just about anywhere, you just have to know where and how to look.

Also, make sure never to go shopping when you’re hungry – it can lead to impulse buys and unhealthy food choices.

Here are some tips at our favorite shopping venues:

Healthy Corner Stores

The Healthy Corner Store Program provides fresh and often-locally grown produce and healthy snacks at an affordable price. DC Central Kitchen has partnered with 67 corner stores in wards 5, 7, and 8 to sell produce at wholesale price, making healthy food accessible and affordable for everyone. Next time you visit a corner store – click here to find a location near you – don’t forget to grab a fresh piece of fruit or vegetable on your way out.  READ MORE

Farmers Markets

Farmers Markets are often perceived as having sky-high prices, but with governmental programs that offer “bonus dollars,” the Farmers’ Markets are more affordable than ever. Two programs that offer FREE money towards your purchase of fruits and vegetables are the Produce Plus Program and the Matching Dollars Benefit Program. The Produce Plus Program allows eligible residents to receive $10 to spend on fresh fruit and vegetables at participating farmers markets throughout the District. Some farmers markets also offer a Matching Dollar incentive program in an effort to reduce economic barriers and increase access to healthy foods. This program is only for customers with SNAP/EBT, WIC, and Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SDMNP). READ MORE

For a list of markets in D.C. that participate in the Produce Plus program or provides Bonus Dollars, click here.

Grocery Stores

women_grocery_shoppingThough some neighborhoods don’t have easy access to the bigger grocery chains, this is where you can usually find the biggest cost savings and variety, and may be worth a Metro bus trip once a month or so (just invest in a pull cart to bring back to the goods!).

Be careful because shopping at grocery stores can easily stretch your budget with impulse buys and unhealthy food choices, but with a few helpful tips, you can save more at the store. Don’t forget to grab the sales flyer when you walk in – and take a minute to scan it for items on your list. While walking the store, keep an eye out for these sales, usually indicated with a bright-colored sign (in the case of Aldi, we always go for the Produce Picks of the Week indicated by a green sign).  Store brands are usually just as good as the brand names (sometime better!) and can be significantly cheaper than name brand items. Saving money can be easy — if you know what to look for. When comparing two items, the price label on the shelf will tell you the better deal. On the label you will see two different prices, the retail price and unit price. It is important to choose the item with the lower unit price – like price per ounce – to get the best deal.

Purchase day-old bread. It costs less, but is still nutritious. And if you need it to last longer, throw it in the freezer, it’ll keep for a year. Buy regular rice, oatmeal, and grits in large containers instead of instant, individual packages. You will save money, sugar, and calories.
Buy large bags of frozen vegetables. Avoid prepackaged salad mixes to save money and spoilage.
Buy fresh fruits “in season” when they generally cost less. Click here for the seasonal guide. Frozen and canned fruits are a smart choice all year round. Look for canned fruit in water, its own juice, or light syrup. Drain and rinse the fruit to avoid excess calories from sugar. Click here for 10 smart shopping tips for affordable vegetables and fruits!
Buy fresh, low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese in the largest size. Larger containers cost less than smaller sizes. Ultra-pasteurized milk has a longer expiration date and won’t spoil as fast
Protein can be consumed through various ways without purchasing expensive meat. Some budget friendly options are beans and peas, such as kidney beans, split peas, and lentils. However, meat can be budget friendly with the purchase of family-sized or value packs. Dried beans and peas are a great source of protein and fiber. Dried is the cheapest way to buy beans and they last a long time without spoiling – they just take a little of pre-planning to use for meals. Chuck or bottom round roast has less fat and is cheaper than sirloin. Look for specials at the meat counter or in the sale section. Discounted meat that is brown in color is not spoiled. It is still safe to eat and just as nutritious as bright red meat. And if you aren’t going to use it right away … Buy meat in large bulk packages to save money. Freeze portions you might not use right away to prevent spoiling.

CVS can be expensive, but check out the weekly sales and the store brand, Gold Emblem, has an “Abound” line in bright green packaging that is the better-for-you choices at a discounted price. We find that they often put cereal and soup on sale – our picks are the Special K Protein when it is on sale for less than $2.50. CVS also offers free printable coupons on the website.

Dollar Tree and other discount stores

It may be surprising, but Dollar Tree is one of our favorite places to find healthy food options – just stay clear of the candy aisle. If you have one with a freezer (both the Michigan Ave NE store in Ward 5 and one in Eastover Shopping Center just over the Maryland border from Ward 8) you can get frozen fruit and vegetables at half the price of a traditional grocery store. It’s also a great place for soups, dried vegetables, rice, canned tomatoes, salad dressing, soymilk and condiments such as buffalo sauce, hot sauce, BBQ sauce, mustard, ketchup, salsa and more. There are also all sorts of spices, which we love to help make food flavorful without adding extra salt. You can also buy cooking tools such as foil pans, plates, napkins and more all for $1. They take EBT, and, did you know Dollar Tree accepts coupons?

Eating Healthy

A balanced, healthy diet can be delicious and affordable, you just need to know where to look and how to prepare it. We’ll offer places to shop, tools for budget savings, and tasty recipes and tips on eating well.

Though it may sometimes feel as though there are no options close to home or in your budget for healthy food, many DC programs are offering great food at a reduced price.

For a map of food resources near you, click here for Food Resource Map for Ward 5 and Food Resource Map for Ward 8.
–    Find out if you qualify for the Women, Infants and Children program WIC Better Nutrition Facts.

Healthy Eating Tips

You know vegetables are good for you, but sometimes it’s hard to convince yourself they taste good or even how to fit them into your meals. The DOH Fact Sheet-Crisp Crunchy Veggies.  The DC Department of Health and US Department of Agriculture offer some tips, and we’ll throw in a few of our own:  READ MORE

And here some facts that might help to motivate you!

  • Broccoli, because it’s a great source of calcium, protects the body’s bones
  • Garlic supports a healthy immune system
  • Eggplant reduces the risk of liver and colon cancers
  • Beets help regulate blood pressure
  • Carrots keep eyes and skin healthy
  • Squash reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke