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Meal Planning

Find out to shop for, cook with, and store food.


  • Obtaining your RAP sheet

  • Searched name online

  • Obtained good references

Watch this video to find out how you can use your CalFresh Benefits to purchase local foods from farmer’s markets in your area.

The Arcata Plaza Farmer’s Marker runs year round on Saturdays from 10am – 2pm and participates in this program. There are several other summertime farmer’s markets that participate.

My Plate


MyPlate is a website developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture with recommendations on healthy eating. This picture shows how much each food group should make up of your daily food intake.




Use their app and website version “Shop Simple” to find useful information on food savings in your area and budgeting and meal planning tips


Planning Your Weekly Meals


Use these tips to create a plan with the 5 Day Meal Planning Worksheet

  • Use what you already have

    • Look at what you have on hand and how you can add to it to create a meal

  • Think about your time

    • Choose meals you can prepare in a short amount of time, and save the longer ones for days off work

  • Make larger meals with enough servings to have leftovers

  • Make a grocery list (more on this later)

  • Shop by recipe

    • Buy foods that you know you can put together to make a complete meal


Money Saving Tips

  • Store brand items are often cheaper than name brand, and there is often little difference in quality

  • Buying in bulk can save you money

  • Snacks and junk food are often more expensive and less filling than non-processed foods

  • Don’t go grocery shopping while you’re hungry

Saving with Sales

  • Browse sales flyers for several grocery stores in your area to see who has the best deals

    • These can be found online, in the newspaper, at their entrance, or on their social media pages

  • Look for coupons - be aware that some coupons must be used at a specific store, and have expiration dates

  • Apps like Flipp keep track of food deals across several different grocery stores to make it easy to search for the best price on a specific food item

  • Look for clearance sections

    • Many stores have a clearance section of foods that are close to their expiration date

Grocery Store Sales

WinCo Foods


  • You can find weekly deals on their site

  • You can register for a free account to get access to digital coupons that can be used at the store by giving the cashier the mobile phone number associated with your account



  • You can find weekly deals on their site

Grocery Outlet


  • You can find weekly deals on their site



  • You can find weekly deals on their site

  • You can sign up for a free Just For You account and get access to special deals

Grocery Store Discounts


  • 10% off Eureka Natural Foods on Tuesdays (65 and older)

  • 5% off North Coast Coop on Tuesdays (60 and older)

  • 10% off Wildberries on Wednesdays (60 and older)

  • 10% off Ross Dress for Less on Tuesdays (55 and older)

  • 10% off Michael’s any day (must register first, 55 and older)

  • 15% off Kohl’s on Wednesdays (60 and older, some exclusions)


  • 10% of Eureka Natural Foods on Saturdays (also for parents of children in school if you show their school ID card and child is present)

  • Cal Poly Humboldt Students get 5% off at Safeway

  • 10% off Wildberries on Saturdays

Public Safety (First responders, police officers, EMT, doctors, nurses, active and reserve military

  • 10% off Eureka Natural Foods on Thursdays

Other promotions

  • North Coast Coop – Wellness Wednesdays – save 10% on items in the Wellness department first Wednesday of every month

Creating a Grocery List (Sourced from Iowa State)

  • Organize your list according to the store layout

    • This saves time and reduces temptation to buy foods you don’t need

  • Look over the recipes you plan to use to see if you’re missing any ingredients

  • Have a master list

    • If there are foods you use and run out of often, creating a master list can help you remember any foods you may need more of

  • Keep your list visible

    • This makes it handy to add to the list throughout the week as you run low on food items


Shopping For Each Food Group (Sourced from



  • Buy “in season” produce which often costs less and is at peak flavor. Buy only what you can use before it spoils. For more info check out the Seasonal Produce Guide from SNAP-Ed Connection at

  • Low-cost fruits include apples and bananas

  • Low-cost vegetables include carrots, green beans, green lettuces, spinach and potatoes

  • Choose fruits canned in 100% fruit juice and vegetables with “low-sodium” or “no salt added” on the label. These products are just as nutritious and fresh, and often cost less.

  • If you have the freezer space, stock up on frozen vegetables without added sauces or butter. Frozen vegetables are as good for you as fresh and may cost less.

  • Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables last much longer then fresh. They can be a quick way to add fruits and vegetables to your meal.


  • Make half your grains whole grains. Types of whole grains include whole wheat, brown rice, bulgur, buckwheat, oatmeal, whole-grain cornmeal, whole oats, and whole rye.

  • While shopping, check ingredient lists and pick the items that have a whole grain listed first.

  • Rice and pasta are budget-friendly grain options.

  • Choose hot cereals like plain oatmeal or whole-grain dry cereal.

  • Try new whole-grain snack ideas, like switching to whole-wheat crackers or popping your own popcorn.



  • Some low-cost protein foods include beans, peas, and lentils such as kidney beans, lima beans, split peas, and garbanzo beans (chickpeas).

  • Beans, peas, and lentils cost less than a similar amount of other protein foods.

  • To lower meat costs, buy the family-sized or value pack and freeze what you don't use.

  • Choose lean meats like chicken or turkey. When choosing ground beef, make sure it's lean.

  • Seafood doesn’t have to cost a lot. Try buying canned tuna, salmon, or sardines. These items store well and are a low-cost option.

  • Don’t forget about eggs! They’re a great low-cost option that’s easy to make.



  • Buy the larger size of low-fat plain yogurt instead of single flavored yogurt. Then add your own flavors by mixing in fruits.

  • Check the sell-by date to make sure you're buying the freshest products.



  • Drink water instead of sodas or other high-sugar drinks. Water is easy on your wallet and has zero calories. Take a reusable water bottle is when on the go.

  • Save time, money, and calories by skipping the chip and cookie aisles.

  • Choose the checkout lane without the candy shelves, especially if you have kids with you.

Understanding the Price Tag

  • Retail price: The price you pay for one, single item

  • Unit price: The cost of an item by its size, such as per ounce. The unit price is calculated by dividing the total price by the size.

  • The unit price is helpful to compare the cost of two items of different sizes. In this example, you get more yogurt for a cheaper price if you buy the larger container, even though the retail price is higher

price tag.png

Creating a Grocery Budget

Knowing how much you spend on groceries each month is the first step towards saving money on groceries. Try tracking how much you spend in a month, by keeping receipts, or making a note of how much you spent and on what whenever you buy something food-related. At the end of the month, ask yourself these questions taken from Iowa State’s Spend Smart Website:

  • Does anything surprise you?

  • Do you eat out more than you expected?

  • Can you find less expensive places to eat out?

  • Can you share dinners with friends or have potlucks instead of eating out?

  • Do you need to learn new skills or find new recipes to make eating at home more fun?

  • Can you bring more food from home instead of buying it away from home?

Storing Food


  • Keep in air-tight packaging at room-temp or in freezer

  • Will keep for about a week at room-temp, or about 6 months in the freezer

Fruits and Vegetables

  • Refrigerate: Grapes, apples, berries, broccoli, celery, carrots, leafy greens, brussel sprouts, asparagus, cut up vegetables or fruit

  • Room-temp (counter): bananas, citrus, melons, tomatoes, pineapple, squash

  • Room-temp (dark area): potato’s, onions, sweet potatoes

  • Avocados, kiwi, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums can be ripened on a counter and then moved to the refrigerator


  • Many leftovers can be frozen to help them last longer and be saved for later

  • Using freezer bags, plastic or glass containers can help prevent freezer burn

  • Leftovers last between 3-4 months in the freezer

Preparing Food

Oven Tips

  • Start preheating your oven about 15 minutes before you are ready to stick your food in

    • Punch in the number of the temperature you want to cook your food and hit “start” or “bake” or “preheat” – every oven is different

  • Don’t put glass pans in before the oven is fully preheated as they can shatter

  • Don’t open the oven too much while food is cooking, as it will lose heat and the food may cook more slowly or unevenly

    • Instead turn on the oven light (but make sure to turn it off later!)

  • After you’re done using the oven, make sure to turn it off by pressing “off” or “cancel”. Leaving the oven on is a fire hazard and wastes gas/electricity. You can leave the door cracked to let out the heat and warm up your house

  • Do not use wax paper in the oven


What Oven Heat to Use:

  • Baking

    • Use the bake option to cook foods on the inside and outside

    • Takes longer than broiling

    • Good for baked goods, larger dishes like lasagna, cobblers, etc

    • Temperatures of 170-400 degrees F

    • Use bottom rack

  • Roasting

    • Temperatures of 400-550 degrees F

    • Good for cooking most veggies

    • Use middle rack

  • Broiling foods

    • Cooks the outside of foods more quickly than baking, making them crispier or have a char. Similar to grilling.

    • Use top rack

    • Temperatures of 550 degrees F

    • Good for smaller or thinner cuts of meat

    • Good for vegetables like asparagus and zucchini


Types of Pans:

  • Aluminum pans

    • Used for roasting vegetables

    • Used for broiling foods

  • Glass or ceramic baking dishes

    • Not for broiling foods

    • Not for temperatures higher than around 425 Degrees F

    • Good for egg dishes, acidic foods, deeper dishes like lasagna, cobblers, brownies

  • Baking sheet

    • Flat pan or pan with small lip used for products that are stiff enough to hold their shape and not run, such as cookies, biscuits, and pastries

  • Bread pan (loaf pan)

    • Used to bake a loaf of bread, or meat loaf


Tips for pans:

  • If your pan is not non-stick, or you don’t know if it’s non-stick, make sure to spray it with non-stick cooking spray to prevent your food from sticking. You can also dip a paper towel in vegetable oil and rub it over the pan to coat it in oil

  • You can also put a piece of parchment paper on the pan to keep food from sticking to it


Stove Tips

  • Gas stoves have open flames. They heat up and cool down quickly.

  • Electric stovetops have a flat cooking surface, which can make for easier cleanup.

  • Make sure to clean your stovetop after cooking, as food spills can build up and burn, creating a bad smell next time you turn the stove on.

    • You can use a sponge or rag with warm soapy water


Dishwasher Tips

  • Plastic containers and lids should go on the top rack to avoid warping

  • Make sure to check kitchen items to see if they are dishwasher-safe

  • Large kitchenware like plates, mixing bowls, baking dishes, etc should go in the bottom rack

  • The quick cycle usually uses more water, energy, and eat to wash dishes quicker. This is best for lightly dirty dishes you need cleaned fast

  • The normal cycle should be used for day-to-day use when dishes aren’t heavily soiled

  • The heavy duty cycle can be used for very dirty pots and pans, and uses extra water and higher temperatures

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