(VFSB) – Groceries are a necessity in everyone’s budget, and prices seem to keep rising.
The US Department of Agriculture predicts that by the end of 2023, food prices will increase by almost 6 percent since the beginning of the year.
When Lydia Gasper peruses the aisles at Highland Park Market in Manchester, she always looks at the prices.
“We definitely always think about trying to spend as little as possible just so we can have more for the other things we want in our lives,” Gasper said.
His mindset is growing as families spend more at the store.
The Food Industry Association says the average family of four spends about $155 a week on groceries.
That’s up from $148 this time last year, but that number is down from $164 in February 2023.
The hope is that the downward trend will continue.
Who knows what will happen with the economy, but that is our hope and our expectation, said Leslie Sarasin, president and CEO of the Food Industry Association.
We can’t predict what will happen to prices, but you can take control of what you buy.
Catalina Quesada is a registered dietitian and community educator at UCONN Health.
“It’s really going back to basics,” Quesada said.
She says that besides the obvious planning ahead and sticking to your list, there are other ways to cut your grocery budget.
Meat is often the most expensive part of your shopping list, so consider protein alternatives like canned tuna, lentils or beans.
Let’s say you’re making a taco filling, and instead of buying more meat to get more volume, you can always stretch it out by adding a can or two of beans. “So you still have the beef flavor, but you’re also adding more of that plant-based protein that’s very filling, healthier and more affordable,” Quesada said.
Quesada also said don’t be afraid to reach into the freezer or canning aisles, as long as you read ingredient labels carefully.
Whenever you’re looking at canned or frozen, you want to make sure you’re choosing something that doesn’t have added sugar or salt, for example, or even sauces, Quesada said.
Here’s an example of how a freezer and canning aisle can save you money:
- A bunch of fresh carrots at Highland Park Market is $3.99
- A frozen one-pound bag of carrots costs $2.19
- A 14.5 oz can of sliced carrots is just $1.19
All of these tips also apply to shopping for holiday meals.
They think outside the box. Sometimes we can make new traditions using other ingredients that might be a little cheaper at the time and try to incorporate them into our holiday meals, Quesada said.
Quesada says meal planning also doesn’t have to be as complicated as people think.
A lot of people don’t plan meals because it’s stressful and they think they have to make meals for the whole week or the whole month, but it doesn’t have to be that complicated. It can be very simple. Just look at different food groups and prepare some of them for the week, and then you can put them together in different ways, Quesada said.
Quesada says the biggest mistake people make is thinking that a social media trend is the answer. Social media trends can often be expensive.
It really goes back to basics. We don’t have superfoods. All foods are superfoods. We just have to eat the rainbow, Quesada said. We just have to mix different types of food within each food group. If you do this consistently throughout the day, then you’re getting all those super nutrients. One food will not be the answer to all our problems,
Quesada says you can find healthy, inexpensive recipes at snap4ct.org
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