Can you feel the squeeze in the supermarket? Recent consumer research by the Bellevue-based Hartman Group found that rising prices are changing the way people shop, with some lower-income people buying less food in general and others switching to cheaper items, including store-branded items. Here are some tried and true tips to further boost your grocery budget.
Eat less outside and cook more at home
There is no denying that meals prepared at home are generally cheaper (and often more nutritious) than meals in restaurants. If you’re enjoying dining out with friends again, consider barbecuing, picnicking, or eating together.
Eat more meatless meals
Beans are an inexpensive, nutritious powerhouse—rich in protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals—whether you prepare them from scratch by soaking and cooking dried beans, or opt for canned beans. Dried lentils are also an option that does not require soaking and has a shorter cooking time. If you do eat meat, poultry, and fish, try adding small amounts to main dishes, stir-fries, soups, or pasta sauces.
Ignore diet dogma
Many trendy diets demonize perfectly nutritious and inexpensive foods like potatoes, pasta, rice, and frozen and canned foods — a shame, because combining leftover vegetables and meat or poultry with a pot of pasta or rice can make for a quick, inexpensive dinner. Even beans are thrown under the bus with extremely low-carb diets. While you can certainly find research studies supporting low-fat diets, low-carb diets, and everything in between, the most compelling evidence comes from research showing that the quality of our food is more important for nutrition and health than any specific ratio of carbohydrates to protein. and thick.
Reduce food waste
When you have to throw away food that you have spent good money on, there is often a feeling of guilt – regardless of your food budget. If you’re in the habit of reaching for “convenience” items like pre-washed salads and pre-cut fruits and vegetables, keep in mind that these ready-to-eat foods usually cost more — and spoil faster — than whole products. If you need convenience and shelf life, canned and frozen foods are an option. They usually cost less and require less preparation than fresh produce, and they’re just as nutritious, sometimes even Lake nutritious, because they are frozen or canned immediately after harvest.
have a plan
By creating a weekly meal plan — at least a loose one — and a flexible grocery list, you can capitalize on sales and make use of leftovers. This reduces food waste and saves money. Your list should cover what you need without pinning down specific brands or varieties. For example, if you must buy fruit, mark it on your list and buy whatever’s on sale (provided it’s something you like). Having a plan and a list can also prevent overbuying. That’s important, because if you buy more than you can use, that “good buy” just turns into food waste.
To make it easier to use up fresh fruits and vegetables, take the time to wash and prepare the produce when you get home from the store. Do you still have some vegetables from your last shopping trip that are looking a little tired? Process them in a wok or a pan of soup or chili.
Need a resource for tasty, nutritious, budget-friendly recipes? I often recommend the cookbook “Good and Cheap: Eat Well at $4/day” by Leanne Brown, which is available as a free downloadable PDF.