Watching groceries ring up in the supermarket line can make anyone lose their appetite. As you look for ways to save a buck, maybe it’s time to consider your daily food bill. Simple strategies and tricks can stretch your food dollar and bring a sense of satisfaction.
A four-step strategy will help you control food costs. First, choose your budget. Three dollars a day is a great target, but decide what your personal goal is and then stick to it by using the next step: a menu! If writing a menu seems completely out of your ball game, have no fear because its easier than you think.
Planning your meals in advance will help you shop effectively, use leftovers, and avoid wasting food already in your pantry. Simple tricks include eating out less, prepare you own meals more and pack a lunch. Always bake from scratch, because boxed mixes can eat up your money! Try replacing some of the meat in your diet with other protein sources. Ground beef is about $3.75 per pound, whereas black beans have a similar texture, color, and amount of protein for only $.30. As an added bonus you’ll replace beefs saturated fat with black beans healthful fiber! Buy the beans dry soak them the night before. Consider aiming for a “meatless Monday” which can save you hundreds of dollars annually and significantly reduce excess calories and fat from your diet.
When planning a menu, choose whole foods. Instead of buying chicken breast, where you’ll pay $3.40 per pound, think about buying a whole chicken for $1.50 per pound. Then, in your menu, plan to use the leftovers in sandwiches and soups or freeze them for later. Whole foods are usually less processed, cheaper per pound, and can be stretched much farther than pre-portioned options.
After your menu is complete, it’s time to make your shopping list. It’s not rocket science, but the list is still an important part of the strategy. Compare store prices and use resources such as club cards, coupons, and sales. Finally go out and shop. In the store, stick to your list and avoid being impulsive when faced with promotionals and those tempting foods you crave! Remember to look at the unit price, not the total price.
Also consider using bulk fool section if they’re available. They often have great prices per pound, have raw and whole options, and allow you the freedom to choose amount. A fun idea to try, especially for families, is to buy fruits, vegetables, and berries from you-pick farms and orchards. Planning to use seasonal foods is cost-effective and environmentally sustainable. Most importantly, enjoy the challenge, be more thoughtful, and get closer to your food sources.
If you’re interested in building the skill to eat on $3 or less per day, join us for a nutrition education presentation provided by the University of Idaho dietetic students, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 1-230 p.m. or 6-7:30 p.m. at Coeur d’Alene’s Kroc Center.