8 Healthy Food Swaps That Will Save You Money at the Supermarket

Even if you weren’t a fan of grocery shopping before, you’ve likely noticed a new reason to dread it: sticker shock at the checkout. Inflation in the United States rose 9.1 percent compared with last June, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Consumer Price Index (CPI) forecast predicts that food in particular will see upward of an 8.5 percent price increase in 2022.

While that news is bad, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should resign yourself to a new regimen of packaged ramen once a day. Eating cheaply doesn’t have to mean sacrificing nutrition, and you might be surprised to discover that many options are healthier than their more expensive counterparts.

“Better pricing options may exist for those products that use less labor and energy to get to the grocery store shelf,” says Scott Brown, PhD, an associate extension professor at the University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources in Columbia. Encouragingly, he also expects the growth in the CPI for food to slow by late fall this year. Until then, try these grocery trade-offs that will benefit your body as much as your bank account (prices may vary by region and change at any time). 

1. Buy: Steel-Cut Oats

Not: Granola

“Breakfast cereals aren’t just pricey, they’re easy to overeat and aren’t that filling,” explains Samantha Cassetty, RD, a plant-focused nutrition and wellness expert and co-author of Sugar Shock. Research shows that oats contain a type of fiber known as beta-glucan that makes them more filling, she adds. In one study comparing an oat-based breakfast cereal with oatmeal, oatmeal comes out on top because it contains more beta-glucan, which helps suppress appetite, Cassetty explains. “Participants in the study ate less at lunch after the oatmeal breakfast, which might translate to cost savings, too,” she says.