Eating healthy does not have to cost more. There are several ways to save money on food. The Family Nutrition in Action October 2012 newsletter recommends the following:
Before you go to the grocery store, plan your meals and snacks for the week.
Find quick and easy recipes. Include meals that will “stretch” into leftovers, namely stews, casseroles and mixed dishes.
Make a grocery list. Ask about a membership card at your grocery store for discounts.
Shop when you are not hungry. Shopping after eating will make it easier to stick to your grocery list. Buy store brands if they’re cheaper. Purchase some items in bulk when items are on sale. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables in season; explore canned and frozen items as well.
Convenience foods, such as precut fruits and vegetables, frozen dinners, individual cups of yogurt and instant rice, will usually cost more. Take the time to cook your own and save!
Prepare meal items in advance when you have time. Cook a large batch of a recipe (double or triple the portion) and freeze in meal-sized containers.
Always practice food safety when storing foods.
Save money in each food group
The following tips will help you cut costs in each food group:
• Whole grains — Buy whole grain bread when it is on sale; freeze for later use. Make your own granola at home.
• Protein — Try canned or dried beans and lentils for a less expensive protein food. Other less expensive protein foods include nuts, seeds and eggs.
• Dairy — Buy fresh, low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese in the largest packages if you can eat these foods before spoiling. Larger containers cost less than smaller sizes.
• Fruit — Buy small amounts of fresh fruit more often. You will have enough time to eat it and not have to throw any away. Overripe fruit is great for smoothies or baking.
• Vegetables — Cut whole carrots into sticks for snacks. Buy large bags of frozen vegetables. Seal tightly between uses.
Brenda Smith is with Okaloosa Saves, a program of the UF/IFAS Extension Office in Crestview.