Smart Shopping on a Budget by The American Diabetes Association

Grocery shopping for diabetes doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. Our CEO, Tracey D. Brown, visited a local Walmart to shop for dinner. She was joined by Sumi Tohan, a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist, to get some advice on budget-friendly shopping for diabetes. Watch the video below to see what they shopped for, and continue reading for additional shopping tips and some easy, budget-friendly recipes to add to your meal plan.

Smart Shopping on a Budget Watch the video here.

Fresh Produce

Check sales flyers from your local store and see what fresh produce is on special, then find recipes that call for those vegetables. Or, try swapping out the fruits or vegetables to a more seasonal option in some of your favorite go-to recipes.

Frozen and canned vegetables are also great options, especially for recipes like soups, stews, or stir frys. Looked for frozen vegetables with no added seasonings or sauces—the ingredients should just be the vegetables themselves. 

For canned options, look for "low sodium" or "no-salt-added." Rinse canned vegetables before adding the dish to reduce sodium even more. 

Meat, Poultry and Fish

Protein is usually the most expensive part of a meal. Adding more meat-free dishes to your meal plan can help lower your grocery bill. Start simple with one meatless Monday and sub in more plant proteins when possible. Examples of plant proteins are beans, lentils, peas, tofu and more. 

When shopping for meats, check fresh and frozen options. They can usually be used interchangeably in recipes, but keep in mind that frozen meat can take 24 hours or more to thaw in the fridge, so you'll have to plan ahead. 

You may assume that fresh meat is more expensive, but you can often find great deals or "manager's specials" on fresh meat, poultry and fish. Buying in bulk can also lower the price per pound, and you can freeze whatever you're not going to use in the next few days. 

When shopping for frozen options, choose products that do not have any added seasonings or sauces. These can add lots of sodium and fat. Check the nutrition facts panel and the ingredients. Ideally, the ingredients will just be the meat itself. 

Other Tips:

  • Check the unit price: The unit price is the cost per ounce or pound (or other unit). You can usually find the unit price on the price tag next to the retail price. This will help you compare prices between different sized packages. Larger packages may be more expensive, but the cost per ounce (unit price) might be less because you are buying a larger quantity. 

  • Buy Store Brands: Store brands are almost always cheaper than name brand products, and the quality is just as good. 

  • Get Creative with Your Recipes: Most recipes have a lot of flexibility to swap ingredients or omit or add things. You might be able to swap out the protein in a recipe for something cheaper, or use different vegetables depending on what's on sale or in season. 

  • Stick to the Basics: Making diabaetes-friendly meals doesn't mean you have to buy expensive, specialty foods. Lean proteins, vegetables, whole grains, fruits, and dairy can all be included on a diabetes-friendly plate

Looking for more mealtime inspiration?

Here are five budget-friendly, easy dinners to add to your meal plan this week. And, they can all be made in one sheet pan or pot for easy clean up!

Click below to add all recipes to your grocery cart, or scroll down to shop each recipe individually.

Sheet Pan Salmon & Asparagus

Here is a perfect weeknight dinner—it comes together in less than 30 minutes and cooks on one sheet pan for easy clean up. Salmon is packed with heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids; this recipe is a great way to add more fish to your meal plan. Enjoy this meal in early spring when asparagus is in season!

Sheet Pan Zucchini & Red Pepper "Stir Fry"

This recipe looks and tastes like a stir-fry, but it is roasted in the oven instead of cooking it on the stovetop. Just toss everything together, lay it out on a sheet pan, and let it bake! It's great as is, or you could add some additional flavors: Sprinkle with peanuts for crunch; drizzle with hot sauce for pow; add fresh cilantro for herbal flair.

Sheet Pan Roasted Turkey & Vegetables

Dinner doesn't get much easier than this! This whole meal comes together in one sheet pan and is ready in less than 30 minutes. It's a perfect weeknight meal, and it's low carb and loaded with veggies!

Baked Whitefish Pouch with Seasonal Veggies

Foil or parchment pouches are an easy way to make perfectly cooked and seasoned fish with vegetables. By sealing the edges of the pouches, you’ll seal in all of the moisture. The result—lots of savory sauciness in the pouch after cooking, with no clean up! You can use any combination of fresh seasonal vegetables. You could also use frozen vegetables (just thaw them first).

Turkey & Veggie Chili

This chili is the ultimate one-pot meal! It's packed with veggies, lean protein, and healthy carbs and fiber from the beans. And, it all comes together easily in one pot, so you won't be left with tons of dishes. It's also great for batch cooking—you can store leftovers as individual servings in the fridge for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for several months. 


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