Family and Consumer Sciences Education: Save Money on Your Food Bills

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   Food bills fluctuate according to the number of trips to the grocery store and number of times eating out.

   The first step to saving money on your food bill is to set a budget. After setting a weekly budget amount, share it with the entire family. Label the front of an envelope with the dollar amount of the budget and put all the food receipts (grocery store and eating out) for the week in it. At the end of the week, see how you did at sticking to your budget.

   Some folks feel that you need to spend a lot on food to eat healthy. Smart shoppers know to look for fresh fruits and vegetables in season and on sale. There are also some super healthy foods items that are as inexpensive as they are tasty.

   When at the store buy foods like beans. Legumes (black beans, kidney beans, pintos, chickpeas, red or green lentils, split peas, etc.) do double duty. They are the only foods that count in two groups: veggies and protein. Canned beans are convenient and inexpensive, but the real bargains are in dried beans. All it takes is an overnight or quick soak (see package), a couple hours to cook, and they’re perfect for soup, chili, tacos, burritos, or yummy baked beans.

   Sweet potatoes are packed with fiber, potassium, vitamins A, C, and phytonutrients. These tasty potatoes are nutrition powerhouses. More nutrient-rich than white potatoes, they can also be baked, mashed, and turned into delicious baked ‘fries’.

   Buy what is in season. Produce generally cost less when it is in season. But when fresh produce prices are high you can feel great about serving frozen produce to your family. Research shows that the frozen veggies (broccoli, green beans, corn, peas, etc.) contain similar levels of vitamin C, fiber, magnesium, and potassium as fresh. Buy a large bag; use what you need, then keep the remaining produce frozen with a tight seal on the bag.

   Canned produce can also be convenient, economical, and healthful. Food manufacturers have ways to lock in nutrients at peak freshness. Look for veggies without added salt and fruit canned in 100% juice.