The rise of food costs has become a problem today in the U.S. According the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the consumer price index report has reported that food cost will increase from 1.25% to 1.75%. The consumer price index (CPI) is a measure of the economy-wide inflation. While the prices of food continue to rise, the challenge of purchasing healthy food has also become a problem for many people. Eating right doesn’t have to burn a hole in your wallet. It may just take some planning and creativity to help you save on food. Here are some tips to help the next time you go to the grocery store with a budget:
Make a list and plan a menu – Planning out meals for the week can help cut down on your grocery bill. Wandering throughout the grocery store can eventually lead to overspending. Try collecting recipes for the week and make lists of foods that you’ll need for the week. Choose a well-balanced recipe that includes: protein, starch, vegetables and choosing water or a low calorie as a beverage.
Get rid of the food goggles – In simple terms, eat before grocery shopping. Everything may look good when you’re hungry. Shopping on an empty stomach can lead to overspending; over eating, and you’re more likely to spend more on unhealthy foods and snacks. Eat a well-balanced meal before going to your next grocery trip.
Use coupons – Clip coupons from your local newspaper and use them on foods that you’ll need. You can land good deals on foods that can also be combined with sales at your local grocery stores
Purchase store brands – Look for generic or store brands when shopping, store brands tend to be cheaper and the quality of the food is often similar than popular brands.
Shop the perimeters – The outer perimeters are where you’d want to start shopping for the most nutritious and low cost foods. Fresh produce, meat, dairy, and grains are normally located on the outside of the market.
Read food labels – This can also be helpful when selecting store brands. Choose foods that are higher in fiber, vitamins and minerals, and low in saturated fats, trans-fat, cholesterol and sodium. Aim for 5% or less in the fat content. Read the ingredients list when choosing whole grains. “Whole grains” or “whole wheat” are terms to look for when purchasing grains.
Shop seasonally – Fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season are most nutritious and least expensive. When there is a call for produce that isn’t in season, it can be purchased frozen or in a can, just be sure to look for low sodium/no sodium option.
Prevent food waste – Put items with the oldest “sell by” dates to the front of the shelf to prevent food waste and before it spoils. Be sure to store and cover leftovers correctly. Leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or frozen for 3-4 months. Be sure to keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot.
Be green – Save money on produce by growing your own fruit, vegetable or herb garden. Not only are you saving money, you are also helping the environment. Start with buying packets of different seeds and plant in appropriate seasons. Ask your local garden expert for more garden advice.
So, the next time you go shopping, keep these tips in mind. You can shop for food that can benefit you and your family and at the same time you won’t have to burn another whole in your wallet!
By: Christine Andrade, Dietetic Intern