Even when you know which foods you should choose for your health, being able to pay for those foods might be hard, especially if you are on a fixed income. Start by deciding how much you can afford to spend on food. There are websites that can help you plan a food budget. For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture supports the website Spend Smart-Eat Smart  through Iowa State University. This website also has inexpensive recipes based on the Dietary Guidelines .
If you don’t have access to the Internet, you can call the Iowa State University Extension offices at 1-515-296-5883. Their staff will help you develop a food budget.
Once you have a budget, read the store ads in the newspaper to see what is on sale. Try to plan some meals around featured items, and pick up some extra canned goods or staples that are on sale. But, stocking up on sale items only makes good sense if they are foods you would buy anyway. And check the expiration or use-by date. A product might be on sale because it is almost out of date. Choose items with dates farthest in the future.
There are several ways to learn more about programs that offer help with meals or food costs. You could contact each program listed above separately, or you could use one of these services:
No matter how careful you are, the cost of food can still eat up a big part of your budget. There may be additional help. For more resources to help with shopping and food costs, visit Learn More .
While some older people have trouble finding enough money to buy food, others need help preparing meals. There are a variety of groups around the country that deliver meals to people who have trouble getting out of their homes. These groups usually offer one hot meal a day. One of the largest is the Meals on Wheels Association of America .
What's On Your Plate? is based on the nutrition recommendations for older adults in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).