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Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Your Budget


Groceries and moneyMake the most of your food dollars

Tammy Roberts, MS, RD, LD, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Barton County, University of Missouri Extension


It will come as no surprise to grocery shoppers that the Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that the consumer price index for food at home has increased 2.8 percent since February 2011. Although we can’t stop buying food or make the prices go down, we can shop wisely and manage the food we have on hand to get the best value for our food dollars.


The first thing we can do is make sure we eat all the food we purchase. That may sound obvious, but according to a University of Arizona study, households throw away about $600 worth of food in a year.


To make sure you won’t be throwing food away, plan to make leftovers. That can mean having a potluck night to clean out the refrigerator or packaging leftovers from dinner for the next day’s lunch. Keep a plastic container in the freezer to add leftover vegetables. When it gets full, you are very close to having vegetable soup. Buy only what you can eat of fresh fruits and vegetables. You can supplement those fresh fruits and vegetables with canned and frozen.


Fresh fruit and vegetable prices represent some of the largest cost increases. Save money by purchasing items that are in season. A way to save significant money is to plant a garden. The closer you can get to fresh-picked, the more nutrients your produce will have. If you bring it in from the back yard, you can be assured it will be packed with nutrients. There is labor involved in planting a garden, but there is also a lot of satisfaction. Children who help plant and grow a garden are more likely to eat the vegetables they grow.


Only go to the store once a week. If you plan meals around store ads, make a list and shop wisely to help save money. According to the Food marketing Institute, we spend $2.17 every minute we are in the supermarket — being organized and sticking to your list helps to save money.


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Last update: Monday, April 25, 2011