While food prices may be on the rise, according to the USDA (Department of Agriculture), a family of four could save as much as $6,000 a year on food ($500 a month) and still eat healthy.
This is important, because food is probably your second highest expense, right after housing.
And with the economy on the downturn, food prices have been steadily on the rise. So maybe itís time to join the millions of other families and individuals who are taking a thriftier approach to healthy eating by using careful planning to cut the financial fat off their food budget.
How to Create your Own Economic Stimulus Program
Of course, the best place to start saving money on food is to stop eating out and start eating at home. The National Restaurant Association boasts that restaurants across the country do $1.7 billion dollars a day in sales, accounting for nearly 50% of the total U.S. food expenditure.
And the average American family spent over $2,500 dining out in 2010. Thatís a lot of money.
As far as eating at home is concerned, the best way to save money is by reducing waste. You could be throwing away lots of money in wilted vegetables and spoiled dairy products. So be careful buying perishable foods and make sure you eat everything you buy before it goes bad.
And always check expiration dates, so you donít buy more than you can eat within the time limit.
Before you go grocery shopping, check out your fridge, freezer and shelves to see what youíve got stored that can be used for meals. And, in order to avoid high-cost impulse buying, always be sure to eat something before you go shopping and make a list to check off at the store.
When at the supermarket, stay away from tempting unhealthy pre-packaged foods and pricey fancy cuts of meat. There are many healthier, much less expensive foods to choose from.
For example, buying enough healthy fresh fruits and vegetables to feed your family for a whole day might cost you less than one 8 oz. bag of salty, high-fat chips. And frozen produce is usually as nutritious as fresh, making it less expensive in the long run because it doesnít spoil.
Whenever you can, buy produce that is in season when it is far less expensive. It costs a lot to ship out of season fruits and vegetables from South America or meat products from Australia.
Thatís why it makes good economic sense to buy as much locally grown fruits and vegetables as you can from a nearby farmerís market. And locally grown food is usually a lot fresher too.
Ways to Get Healthier While Saving Money on Your Food
You can often save money buying healthy 100% whole grain breads, pasta and cereals, as opposed to wasting your money on unhealthy, highly sweetened grain products. Plus, many whole grain foods can be bought in bulk, which is another great money-saving technique.
And be sure to go for chicken, turkey and fish rather than higher priced cuts of pork, veal and beef. Ground low-fat turkey breasts are a great substitute for beef in chili and pasta recipes.
Eggs, tofu and boneless, skinless chicken breasts are other less expensive sources of protein.
And hereís a great idea to eat healthy cheaply. Many communities have local food buying co-ops, which is an excellent way to save money. Just ask your friends and neighbors if thereís one in your area. If not, start your own. Itís a great way to get better prices on healthy foods.
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Note: The information contained on this website is not intended to be prescriptive. Any attempt to diagnose or treat an illness should come under the direction of a physician who is familiar with nutritional therapy.