Food. It’s one of the necessities of life. Yet, keeping you and your family fed can take a large portion of your budget. The following tips from our partners at FoolProof can help you get more for your money no matter what’s happening with food prices.
Shopping for Groceries
Grocery stores can make it tempting to blow your budget. But you can resist that temptation if you plan ahead.
- Go to the grocery only once or twice a week. This can reduce impulse buying.
- Shop around. Compare prices at different stores including big box, wholesale clubs, discount grocers, dollar stores, farmer’s markets, and co-ops. Many of these stores post their prices online.
- Review the weekly ads. These are usually posted online too. Save money by stocking up on frequently bought items when they are on sale.
- Plan your menus for several days or the week. Check if you have the ingredients you’ll need. Cooking at home, if you have the time, is more economical than buying a meal kit or prepackaged meals.
- Make a list or a list for each store. Arrange the list according to the store layout so you won’t need to backtrack.
- Stick to the list. Don’t be tempted by sale or other items that you don’t need.
- Compare unit prices of items. Canned or frozen items may be less expensive than fresh but just as nutritious.
- Store brands or private label brands are typically less expensive than name brands.
- Use store loyalty cards. These provide savings, special deals, and other benefits such as gas savings.
These resources have more shopping tips.
Spend Smart. Eat Smart. from the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach service, provides tips for planning, shopping and cooking. Including videos and recipes.
How to Save Time and Money Food Shopping from Consumer Reports.
Growing Your Own Food
You may think that you need to live on a farm or have a large yard to grow you own food but you don’t.
- Instead of planting flowers, plant some vegetables.
- If you only have a patio or balcony, some fruits and vegetables can be grown in containers.
- Some communities have garden plots for residents to use.
Even if these aren’t options, visit local farmer’s markets. These may be year round or seasonal, established locations with many farmers or just one or two.
Eating Out, Taking Out, or Delivery
Frequently purchasing meals can put a dent in your budget. Consider eating out a treat and plan it in the budget. For example, instead of buying lunch at work or school, take your lunch. It’s less expensive to put the meal together at home.
For those who struggle to afford food, assistance is available.
- Food banks, food pantries, and other food programs provide food and other assistance to help those in need. You can use these links to find help in your area: Feeding America and FoodPantries.org.
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides benefits to supplement the food budget of eligible families.
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides nutritious foods to supplement diets for eligible pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, and infants, and children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk.
- Child Nutrition Programs include the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program and Summer Food Service Program.
- Nutrition Programs for Seniors include Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program and a Meals on Wheels provider locator.