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Reduce food costs to combat inflation

Like many shoppers, I’ve noticed that grocery bills are increasing every week. Food prices in February were 7.9% higher than they were a year ago, according to the USDA Economic Research Service. To supplement my family’s busy spring schedule, I also looked at shortcuts such as pre-packaged snacks and meal kits. This was further added to the billing amount.

To counter these pressures, I applied all the dependable savings tricks. We opt-in to the grocery store loyalty program to take advantage of additional discounts, offer bonus cashback on grocery purchases using credit cards, and plan a weekly menu for sales. Still, shopping with a family of five continued to shock the stickers.

USDA predicts that food prices will continue to rise from 4.5% to 5.5% in 2022, so as additional guidance, we consulted with experienced budget and culinary experts who made food spending more manageable. .. Here are their best tips for saving money on food:

Control what you can do

Bowdoin, Maine-based Erin Lowell can feel that much of the economy, such as rising interest rates, inflation, and supply chain challenges, is completely out of our control, but in fact. Our food spending is one of the areas in which we have a great influence. You Need a Budget’s chief educator, budgeting app. By spending more time cooking and substituting cheap ingredients, she says, you can immediately feel the savings, unlike other costs such as invoices and rent that are difficult to change.

Lowell assesses how much effort you are currently making to minimize your food spending and suggests taking that effort to the next level. For example, if you are currently ordering a pizza for delivery, consider buying a nice frozen pizza for a quarter of the cost. If you’ve already bought a frozen pizza, consider making it yourself from scratch with just a few dollars worth of ingredients.

Plan a meal

Jake Xinault, a personal finance teacher in Thousand Oaks, California and author of “How to Adult: Personal Finance for the Real World,” said: .. He says planning ahead is the key to countering the temptation to order takeaway at the last minute.

“If you prepare your meal on Sunday and eat 6-7 meals, you will not face the decision” whether I order or prepare food. ” Every night, “says Cousineau. He usually cooks meat on Sundays and can be used, for example, in tacos, pasta and salads later in the week. “You can lift heavy objects on Sunday and then mix and match throughout the week.”

The plan also helps avoid food waste, another budget killer, warns St. Louis’s Certified Financial Planner and Family Budget Expert Robbertman. “Buy in bulk for what you know to experience, but when food is placed in the freezer or pantry and thrown into the trash, it becomes expensive.” He and his wife said. Remember to use those ingredients as we have a list of side and main dishes that you may have in your freezer, fridge and pantry.

Leverage resources in the kitchen

Maggie Hoffman, digital director of New York-based culinary website Epicurious, proposes to replace what’s already at home with recipe ingredients. “Be confident in your cooking. If you have farro, use it instead of brown rice. Use hot sauce or vinegar instead of lemon.”

Hoffman also recommends “Next Over,” which transforms the eve’s cuisine into something new. For example, one night’s roast chicken could be the next enchilada stuffing.

She adds that cheap beans are also a flexible staple food in general. She can serve it herself or add it to salads and soups. “Beans are still the best. Give them a little marinade, add garlic and make sure they are seasoned.”

Please keep the pantry securely

Investing in staples saves you money because you can quickly prepare last-minute meals instead of ordering. “I always keep 5-10 simple, budget-friendly meals in my house,” says Lowell. In her case, the list includes her homemade pizza, frozen fish with french fries, and ingredients for pasta dishes. “It’s never expensive, and I’m always happy to eat it.”

Lean on your community

Although some local food banks have eligibility requirements, many are open to all members of the community in need of support, said Trinity Financial Coaching Area Financial Coach, Orlando, Florida. Willa Williams, co-host of The Abundant Living Podcast, says. Some nearby gardens also serve community vegetables and other produce at the time of harvest. “Food is here, so come and get it,” she says. “It prevents you from spending your food budget.”

My grocery bill is still higher than I want. Even the most savvy shoppers can’t beat this level of inflation, but these tips make it easier to manage. And my kids learned their simple habits, such as the simple joy of cooking lentil soup for a midnight snack and the savings you can get from packing your own snacks.

This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website Nerd Wallet. Kimberly Palmer is a personal finance expert at NerdWallet and author of “Smart Mom, Rich Mom”. Email: kpalmer@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @KimberlyPalmer.

Related Links:

NerdWallet: How to Save Money: 22 Proven Methods https://bit.ly/nerdwallet-how-to-save-money-22-proven-ways

Reduce food costs to combat inflation

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