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People look at frozen vegetables in grocery store

A family looks at frozen vegetables to find the most nutritious and least expensive ones. One tip is to purchase frozen veggies that do not already have sauce or seasonings added. These veggies usually have a lot of salt and they are more expensive than plain frozen vegetables.

The Cooperative Extension

Windsor, NC

Bertie County

Whitney Watson, the Family and Consumer Science Agent in Bertie County, leads free grocery store tours for families who want to learn how to purchase healthy food on a budget. She teaches families about MyPlate, Shopping on a Budget, Nutrition Facts, and Cooking Smart.

  • MyPlate: Participants learned how to use MyPlate to create a healthy meal. MyPlate shows the five main food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy) and how much of each food group you need on your plate to make a complete meal.

  • Shopping on a Budget: Participants learned how to compare prices to make nutritious and inexpensive choices at the store.

  • Nutrition Facts: Participants learned how to interpret a Nutrition Facts label so they know exactly what is in the food they are purchasing.

  • Cooking Smart: Participants learned about healthy recipes and food-swaps that can be done to prepare nutritious meals.

At the end of the tour, each family was given a grocery store gift card and was challenged to create a full meal for a family of four. The only requirements were that they had to cover the five

MyPlate food groups, and they couldn’t go over their gift card amount. The gift card amounts varied, with the highest being $9.60. Family could work together and use coupons or store cards. At the end, the families gathered to talk about their decision-making process. One family was over budget, so they swapped

out a more expensive meat product for less expensive black beans. This way they could still get their necessary protein without going over budget.

If you’d like to host a grocery store tour, stop by your county’s cooperative extension office. Family and Consumer Science Agents will often work with organizations to host these tours for free.

If you’d rather host the tour yourself, you can use the "Smart, Fearless Shopper" Guide from the American Heart Association's Healthy for Life curriculum. Topics include:​

  • How to save money by comparing unit prices

  • How to find whole grains

  • Shopping the perimeter

  • How to compare fresh, frozen, and canned vegetables to find the
    least expensive and most nutritious version


Once you are ready to host the tour, contact the manager at the grocery store you would like visit. Make sure to choose a grocery store that most people shop at so they will be able to use what they learn.




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