Food Cost 101-Eating Well, Spending Less

Rising food costs are a reality that is not going away as prices are projected to increase over five percent this year. During these times, we have two options. Choose calorie-dense, low-cost foods and risk your health or become a savvy shopper. This month on "It's About You", we get insight on eating healthy and saving money from three experts, Martha DeCampos, RD, Jefferson Co Family & Consumer Science Extension Agent, April Dawson, EFNEP Assistant for Jefferson Co and Liz Buckner, Director of the EFNEP and Food Stamp Education program for University of Kentucky.

"It's too expensive to eat healthy" is often heard when food prices rise. However, being smart about what and how we purchase food can guarantee us food value for our dollar. Smart shopping starts at home. By taking an inventory of available food in the cupboard and refrigerator we can make a list of the most needed items for the current week's menus and reduce our food waste. Make sure you use the list to prevent those temptations of impulse buying of less healthy foods.  Check sale prices and buy in bulk, especially meat items for long term savings. Remember cost savings of buying in bulk can only be realized if you have proper storage containers and space. Use containers and plastic bags that are designed for freezer storage to protect your "investment".

Grocery stores trips can be time consuming and confusing even when you are prepared if you try to read all the labels. Use your time wisely and focus on the ones that give you the most information. Check the unit price labeling when comparing items to help you find the best deal. Look at the Nutrition Fact panel and ingredient list to make sure you are getting the most nutrition for your money.  Look for the nutrient-rich terms like whole grains, low fat dairy and unsweetened juices/fruits. Be savvy when shopping-look up and down, not straight ahead! Typically, store brands and more economical choices are stocked on the upper and lower shelves of a store aisle.

It takes "knowledge, money and time" to be well nourished. When food prices are high, it's a good time to sharpen your cooking skills and learn how to preserve food. During the height of the fresh produce season, take the time to learn how to preserve the freshness of the season. Canning and freezing seasonal foods guarantees you tasty and nutritious food throughout the year. Preparing meals at home not only saves food dollars, but gas money as well!

University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Publications related to Cost Savings
 [ links removed - check Family and Consumer Sciences website for current publications ]

Meat and Bean Group: Go Lean on Protein

Meat and Bean Group: How much is enough

Meat and Bean Group: Are you prepared?

A guide to family meal planning: Meeting the Family Needs

Menu Planning: Is Your Meal a "10?"

Plan for Food Spending

Keeping Foods Safe to Eat

Meaty Tips

Nutrition Value of Meat

How to make your money go further

How to keep money in your pocket

Sales and Buying Tips

Supermarket Savvy

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