Making Choices between Food Needs and Food Wants


Food needs: Basic food choices that are needed for health.

Food wants: Foods you’d like to have, but could survive without them—often convenience foods.

Get more for your food dollars:

  • Plan meals and make your shopping list.
  • Think about your food needs first, then make choices from your food wants list if you have enough funds to purchase them.

Example—Food needs: Fruits and vegetables in season, whole chicken and oatmeal.

Example—Food wants: Pre-made fruit smoothies, meat that is pre-cut or instant oatmeal in individual packages.

  • Limit food wants that are low in nutrients but high in fat and calories. These are “once-in-a-while” foods.
  • Try to limit convenience foods when planning meals.

Source: University of Maryland Extension