QUESTION: My grocery bill has risen by almost $80 a month since March and it’s becoming harder to keep spending so much more than we used to. Do you have any tips on how we can cut our food costs?
ANSWER: You aren’t alone in noticing the increase in the price of some foods. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, food prices increased some 5.6% in June as compared to the same time last year. Additionally, between March and June, the cost of poultry and eggs has increased more than 7%, while the costs of veal and meat has increased more than 20%.
Much of the increase, experts say, has been attributed to several reasons, including the increased demand for groceries with more people buying food to eat at home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as issues with disruptions across the food supply chain earlier in the pandemic.
With this in mind, there are ways for you to cut costs from your grocery bill, while still eating healthy. You can start by planning ahead for your grocery spending, which can allow you to make healthy food choices but still spend less.
As mentioned in a previous Chow Line, one of the best ways to stick to a budget is to take inventory in your kitchen of the items that are needed for the week or the month and make a list of the foods you plan to purchase before you get to the grocery store. And once you are at the store, stick to your grocery list, bypassing the urge to buy any tempting items that you really don’t need.
That’s just one of the tips listed on the Celebrate Your Plate website offered by The Ohio State University’s SNAP-Ed program. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered by Ohio State University Extension, which is the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).
The website offers tips on shopping, cooking, gardening and for in the kitchen, all designed to help people budget for, plan and create healthy, good-tasting meals.
Some other tips the website offers on how fruits and vegetables can fit into your budget include:
-Plan your meals ahead of time and make a grocery list, then stick to your list. You’ll save money by buying only what you need.
-Don’t shop when you’re hungry. Shopping after eating will make it easier to pass on tempting snack foods. You’ll have more of your food budget for vegetables and fruits.
-When purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables, buy those that are in season. In-season produce typically not only has more flavor and is fresher, it usually costs less.
-Canned or frozen vegetables can offer costs savings. For canned items, choose fruit canned in 100 percent fruit juice and vegetables with “low sodium” or “no salt added” on the label.
-Clip coupons from the local newspaper and online. Also, check weekly store ads for sales, coupons and specials that will cut food costs.
-Some fresh vegetables and fruits don’t last long, so buying small amounts more often can help make sure you can eat the foods without throwing any away.
-Choose store brands when possible. You’ll get the same or similar product for a cheaper price. If your grocery store has a membership card, sign up for even more savings.
-Buy vegetables and fruits in their simplest form. Pre-cut, pre-washed, ready-to-eat and processed foods may be more convenient, but they often cost much more than fruits and vegetables that are purchased in their most basic forms.
Another way to save time and money while incorporating more fruits and veggies in your diet is to use leftover vegetables to make a casserole or soup. You can use your overripe fruit to make a smoothie or for baking. More cost-saving tips, recipes and information can be found at celebrateyourplate.org.
Chow Line is a service of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or email@example.com.