Planning menus ahead of time and making a list before going shopping allows you to take advantage of coupons and sales. In addition, buying store brands as well as buying in bulk can save money in the long run.
The mantra of ‘it is not what you eat, but HOW much’ is very prevalent to this conversation. Anything can fit, but it must be in moderation and according to serving sizes on food labels. The same general rules about sugar and salt apply to those with diabetes—limited ADDED sugar and salt is the key to reducing overall intake.
Meat can be expensive but it is important to get enough protein in your diet. Non-meat choices will be more affordable such as dried beans and peas, eggs, and nut butters.
Dessert items are going to be higher in calories and fat leading to weight gain, but choosing healthier options is easy on a budget. Frozen fruit is cheaper and, provided only one serving size is consumed, it is a great dessert option. Fresh fruit can also be a great option, but purchasing fruit (and vegetables) when in season will make it far more affordable.
In terms of where to shop, cheaper foods will always be found at chain locations (not bodegas or corner grocery stores) if purchasing the chain stores' brand of products. However, this means also taking advantage of coupons and sales.
For further suggestions on how to cook on a limited budget, here are some wonderful resources.