Stretching Your Food Dollars

Summertime is here and the kids have been out of school for months now due to the global pandemic, COVID-19. Chances are, you and your family are eating more meals and snacks at home during this quarantine. Summer happens to be one of the most expensive seasons of the year, which means a tighter food budget for most families. With some time and planning, you and your family can enjoy nutritious, balanced meals and snacks on a limited budget.

First, figure out how much money you have for food for the week or month. Then, plan your menus for several days or a week. Think about what foods you want to feed your family for meals and snacks. Consider their favorites when you plan your menus. Also, have your children help plan meals and snacks. Children are more likely to eat foods they helped choose. Include meals like casseroles, stews, soups, and stir-fries that “stretch” the expensive items on your list.

Next, make a grocery list of all the foods you will need to prepare the meals and snacks on your menus. You also may want to keep an ongoing list of the items you need. Check the refrigerator, freezer, and cupboard for foods you already have on hand.

Once you are ready to head to the grocery store, there are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Commit to sticking to your shopping list to avoid impulse buying. Grocery stores use marketing strategies, like end-of-the-aisle displays, to get consumers to buy foods they might not ordinarily buy.
  • Shop when you are not hungry so you are not tempted to buy foods that are not on the list.
  • Shop without children, if you can.

Children may ask to buy things that are not on the list. Foods that children like such as sugary snacks and cereals are at their eye level on the shelves so they can see them.

Shopping on a budget does not have to be complicated or lack creativity. Try to remember the three main steps to get the most out of your food budget. Plan before you shop, purchase items at the best price, and prepare meals that stretch your food dollars.

Here are some more tips to help keep you within your budget:

  • Go back to the basics.

Convenience foods like frozen dinners, pre-cut vegetables and instant rice, oatmeal, or grits will cost you more than if you were to make them from scratch. Take the time to prepare your own – and save!

  • Go easy on your wallet.

Certain foods are typically low-cost options all year round. Try beans for a less expensive protein food. For vegetables, buy carrots, greens, or potatoes. Apples and bananas are good choices for fruits.

  • Cook once – eat all week!

Prepare a large batch of favorite recipes on your day off (double or triple the recipe). Freeze in individual containers. Use them throughout the week, and will not need to spend money on take-out meals.

  • Get your creative juices flowing.

Spice up your leftovers – use them in new ways. For example, try leftover chicken in a stir-fry, in a chicken chili, or over a garden salad. Remember throwing food away is throwing away your money.

  • Be smart when you eat out.

Restaurants can be expensive. Save money by getting the early bird special, going out for lunch instead of dinner, or looking for “2 for 1” deals. Stick to water instead of ordering other beverages, which adds to the bill.

Using these tips will help lower your monthly grocery bill and help your family stay on track with your food budget. Get the most out of your food dollars while still enjoying delicious meals with your family this summer!

10/11/2021 4:09:02 PM
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