Shopping smart can help you save money on fuel and food!
Between rising gas prices and food costs, consumers these days are feeling a crunch. The Department of Agriculture predicts a 4% to 5% increase in food prices this year, and the largest increases are forecast for fats and oils, estimated to rise 8% to 9%, and cereals and bakery products, projected to jump 7.5% to 8.5%. Gas is already edging closer to $4 per gallon. Here are 3 tips to help you save money, yet still eat healthfully.
1. Shop less frequently.
One way to save time and lower food costs is to shop less frequently. Fewer trips means less money spent on impulse decisions, as well as less money spent on fuel (and other transportation costs) that you use in order to get the store. Plus, shopping less frequently will save you time. Who doesn’t want to ease a busy schedule?
2. Stock up on low-cost frozen and pantry items, especially when they’re on sale.
Foods for the pantry and freezer have a much longer shelf life than refrigerated items. Frozen foods, canned goods, and bulk pantry items also tend to be bulky and take more time to gather, especially since you have to push the cart all over the store. It is more efficient to buy more of each product all at once, so that you don’t have to repeat the same dance week after week. By stocking up a lot on freezer and pantry items at a discount store (or when you see them on sale) you can save serious $$$. Once you have a good stockpile, weekly shopping becomes much easier. You can simply dash in to the local market for a few fresh produce and dairy items.
With food costs on the rise, it makes sense to stockpile foods. Buying now gets you today’s prices.
And if you stock up on MyPlate foods, you are more likely to prepare and eat healthful meals at home instead of eating at restaurants and drive-thrus all the time. Foods prepared at home are often healthier and lower in calories than restaurant foods, and you spend less on transportation if you stay home as well.
Try these great pantry and freezer items. Remember to steer clear of added sugar and sodium.
- Canned beans
- Canned tomatoes and veggies
- Canned tuna
- Fat-free dry milk powder
- Pasta and whole grain pasta
- Pasta sauce
- Peanut butter
- Rice and brown rice
- Bread (whole grain)
- Egg whites or nonfat egg substitute in cartons
- Fish and seafood (not breaded)
- Lean meat
3. Choose less processed foods.
By purchasing items that are less processed, you will spend less money and buy items that are often much healthier. For example, by choosing whole potatoes instead of potato chips or frozen French fries, you save a lot of money per ounce. You also reduce fat, sodium, and calories as well! Not convinced? Check out the price per ounce for each of the following potato products…
- Baking Potatoes $0.06 per ounce
- Frozen French Fries $0.13 per ounce
- Frozen Mashed Potatoes $0.13 per ounce
- Instant Mashed Potatoes $0.21 per ounce
- Potato Chips $0.32 per ounce
The processed items (in italics) are at least double the price of the plain potatoes.
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