Food tips

KITTY FINKLEA: Help fight inflation with 11 food tips to save dollars | Food and cooking

We’ve all fallen victim to the sticker shock of seeing the rise in food prices at the grocery store over the past year.

And sadly, the trend continues with the United States Department of Agriculture’s prediction hitting consumers with another 4-5% increase in food costs for the remainder of 2022. There are a number of reasons why. why food prices are rising, including rising global shipping costs, shortages of materials used in food packaging, as well as the war in Ukraine, bird flu in the poultry section, and extreme weather events, including forest fires and droughts affecting costs.

Grocery items expected to increase are beef, chicken, dairy, eggs, fruit, and oils/fats. Also expect an increase in sweets, cereals, baked goods and soft drinks. Restaurant prices will continue to rise, which means that now more than ever, eating at home is cheaper than eating out. If you’re not a cook, it’s a good idea to start learning some basic cooking skills now to save money. Taking steps to reduce food waste, such as using all foods or freezing extra foods before they spoil, is also a helpful plan.

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Establishing a food budget can help you stick to a financial food plan. A basic guide costs $100 to $125 per person per month, which means $25 to $31 per week in food for each individual in the household. This is a general guide to getting started and is individualized based on age, income, and other factors. If you tend to overspend, get some cash out and keep your phone’s calculator handy when you’re shopping.

Here are 11 more tips to help you save money on groceries:

Track your spending – most people don’t know how much they spend on food. Tracking all food costs for a month is crucial to knowing how much is being spent and analyzing what can be cut from the budget or if there are cheaper versions or alternatives to add.

Plan meals – take the time to write down meals for the week. Plan two or three breakfast and lunch options and at least four dinner options, especially if you usually have leftovers. Plan for leftovers, for example, if you’re making black beans for a side, use the leftovers in a wrap or add them to a salad.

Take inventory – make a grocery list from your menus and check the pantry, fridge and freezer first to see what’s already on hand to avoid over-buying. Keep a shopping list on the fridge or on your phone.

Stick to your grocery list – it’s a simple reminder to make sure you don’t shop if you’re hungry when the odds of impulse buying are high. Leave the kids at home to avoid any hard-to-resist begging, or establish a rule of only one extra food per child.

Add more meatless meals – meat, poultry and seafood are usually the most important items in a food budget. Incorporate meatless meals each week, such as peanut butter toast for breakfast, bean burgers, tacos, and chili for lunch, or vegetarian lasagna, spaghetti, and chili for dinner. are easy and delicious substitutes to add to menus.

Buy seasonal products – buying seasonal products is usually cheaper. Visit local area farmers markets and check out this seasonal produce calendar for South Carolina: https://agriculture.sc.gov/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/harvestcalendar1108.pdf

Stock up on non-perishable items – foods such as dried cereals, beans, canned goods, crackers, bars and other foods with long shelf lives are a great option to stock up on when they’re short. on sale.

Freeze before it spoils – food waste is a major cause of money leaks. Buy only enough fresh produce and meats for the week. Observe expiration dates and throw items in the freezer before they expire. Label leftovers and use them within four to six weeks.

First in, first out – move all older items to the front and place newly purchased items to the back when loading into the grocery store. The “first in, first out” directive to avoid spoilage or expiry is used in catering operations and is a great habit to start at home.

Compare store prices and brands – “shrinkflation” occurs when companies reduce or reduce the serving size of a product while keeping the same price. It’s a sneaky way to trick the consumer into paying more, often without realizing it. Be sure to look at the serving size or net weight and unit price when comparing products. Also compare the product with store brands, which are usually the last to downsize a product.

Explore grocery store loyalty cards, cash back credit cards and budget saving apps – most grocery stores offer loyalty cards at discounted prices. Cash back credit cards are a quick way to earn money back on your purchases as long as you pay off the balance each month. And, while the days of discount coupons are over, head to your online grocery store to search for coupons or explore other money-saving apps: Ibota and Rakutan send money on purchases after a certain amount in dollars and coupons.com is available in print or digital. coupons.

Taking steps to save money on food is well worth the time invested. While it may not seem like much at the time, the financial benefits pay off in the long run, and it also feels good to do a little bit in the fight against inflation in any way you can!

For more information on making healthier lifestyle changes, contact Kitty Finklea, lifestyle coach, dietitian, and personal trainer at McLeod Health and Fitness Center, 843-777-3000.