Although bank accounts may be shrinking, waistlines are expanding. People trying to maximize calories per dollar tend to pack on “recession pounds” by eating cheap, fast foods. Processed fast foods, though inexpensive, tend to be high in fat, sugar and calories and low in fiber, antioxidants and nutritional value.
Luckily, eating from the 4 New Food Groups (Fruits, Vegetables, Whole Grains and Legumes i.e., beans, nuts and seeds.) is not only healthy but more economical than eating animal products. Here are some ways to reduce your food bill:
1. Buy Big for staples: Soy, nut, rice milks, nuts, dried beans, whole grains and other staples can be purchased in bulk. Some stores offer a discount on items bought by the case. Check expiration dates prior to purchase. Certain items can be kept frozen for several months. Unless you can resist temptation, avoid buying cookies or snack foods this way.
2. Make Your Own: Veggie burgers, soups and sauces can be prepared at home for a fraction of the cost and you control the sodium (salt) content.
3. Buy American and local produce in season: The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) restricts certain pesticides but other countries do not. Imported fruits and vegetables may have more pesticides. Buying local produce helps support local farmers and is usually less expensive. Locally grown organic produce is often less expensive.
4. Item price/Unit Price: Compare prices by item price as well as unit price (price for the same quantity). For instance: 16 oz. of whole wheat pasta at $2.00 is less expensive than 10 oz. at $1.50.
5. Shop with a list and calculator: Keep a tally of what you are putting in your cart. It helps make you mindful of what you are purchasing.
6. Freebies-Mislabeled/ wrongly scanned items: If an item scans wrong, ask that the shelf label be checked. You are entitled to get the item for free if it is labeled wrong or scans wrong. Go to the Courtesy Desk with your receipt and request a refund.