Face it–we’ve got a tough economy. Prices are rising, while wages and incomes either are not rising or are actually shrinking. The only flex point in most family’s budgets that is left is the food budget. So what can a homemaker do to deliver nutritious meals while pinching every penny.
- Reduce waste. Remember that old saying, waste not, want not? It’s very true. Most families waste as much as 10% of the food they purchase. Use leftovers for lunches or remake them the following day for a re-run at the dinner table. Don’t forget to use fresh items before they expire either–this is another source of waste.
- Eat in season. Choose fruits and vegetables in season for best prices as well as best quality. Shop farmers markets too.
- Consider gardening. Even just a small herb garden in containers or disguised in a flower bed can save you plenty at the grocery store. Per pound, herbs are far more expensive than meat even. Vegetables from your own garden can deliver a huge nutritional benefit for minimal effort. It also contributes to general health by encouraging healthy exercise.
- Eat less meat. Meat is one of the most expensive items at the store. Use recipes that stretch the meat out by using it as one of many ingredients and a flavoring rather than as the main star of the dish. Consider meatless meals as well.
- Use whole grain items such as pastas and rice. While they may seem more expensive, they deliver more nutrition than those made from “white” flours. Whole grain carbohydrates also convert more slowly to sugar in the bloodstream as well, providing a steadier stream of energy.
- Avoid convenience foods. Skip the frozen dinners and boxed mixes. Not only are they often guilty of having more sodium than recommended for a healthy diet, but they are expensive for the nutritional package they deliver. Many quick and easy recipes can be prepared in the same amount of time for less money.
- Skip the snack food aisle. We all know it–the snack food aisle doesn’t have a lot of nutrition included per dollar, but it does deliver too much in terms of fat and sodium. It’s also very easy to over-indulge, since few of us stop at 10 chips or whatever the serving size is of that particular snack food.
- Don’t buy desserts. Instead of buying a dessert item that is full of additives and preservatives, make your own. Many recipes are easy to make, using seasonal ingredients. Skipping dessert entirely can leave a family feeling deprived, but including it a few nights a week can make homemade desserts taste divine.
Hopefully, these six hints can help your family stay on budget as well as eating healthier meals.