NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Saving Money on Groceries While Eating Well

GettyImages-517974394With inflation at a 40-year high and grocery costs up close to 11% compared to 2021, saving money at the store has become a priority for many. However, when trying to save money at the store, many individuals cut back on the pricier yet healthier items, such as fruits, vegetables, and lean protein sources. But you don’t have to do that! Here are some tips and tricks for maintaining a healthy diet while shopping smart and saving money at the store.

  • Have a grocery store game plan. Make a list of the meals and snacks you plan to eat throughout the week and the foods you will need to make them. Sticking to this list will help prevent you from buying things you do not need, which often results in wasted food and money.
  • Join your store's loyalty or rewards program. Often these programs are free and automatically apply savings at checkout, requiring minimal effort from you.
  • Buy “in-season” and “local” fruits and vegetables when possible. Fruits and vegetables that are local or in season are typically cheaper to produce and ship, resulting in a lower price for the consumer compared to hard-to-find or out-of-season produce. See what produce is currently in season at the USDA website.
  • Buy frozen. If you have freezer space available, purchase frozen fruits and vegetables without added salt or sauces. Typically frozen fruits and vegetables are just as healthy as fresh and are a fraction of the cost.
  • Buy canned fruits and vegetables. When purchasing fruits, try to buy those that are packaged in 100% fruit juice. When purchasing vegetables, look for those that have “no salt added” listed on the label, or simply rinse prior to preparing/cooking to help wash off some of the salt added for preservation.
  • Grow your own! Grow your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs to cut back on packaging costs.
  • Buy fresh. Check the “sell by” or “best by” date to ensure you are buying the freshest items.
  • Compare your options. Compare and contrast different sizes and brands to find the most cost-effective option. Looking at the “price per unit” can help you find the best deal.
  • Buy in bulk. When you know a certain food or drink will get used, buy in bulk or purchase value- or family-sized items. For produce and meat, anything that isn’t used can be frozen for later use.

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This blog was written by Lindsey Recker, MS, RD, NIFS Registered Dietitian. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: healthy eating whole foods fruits and vegetables grocery shopping saving money frozen food

Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste (from a NIFS Dietitian)

GettyImages-639303956Every day Americans waste a lot of food. One statistic states that we throw away up to 40 percent of the food that is purchased! This is usually due to the fact that even though food costs are rising, no other nation spends less on the food supply. Since food is so abundant, especially with the warehouse options like Costco for grocery shopping, it makes it easier to not value the food and therefore toss more in the trash.

Tips for Reducing Wasted Food

Here are some simple and practical tips to help you contribute to reducing food waste in America.

  • Shop smart. This is the easiest and most practical one to follow. When you go grocery shopping, don’t buy too much food! This might mean going to the store more frequently or just buying less each time you go. Plan your meals and snacks and then make a list. When you get to the store, actually stick to the list.
  • Practice portion control. This one is tough! Following portion sizes is a challenge since we tend to over-serve ourselves; however, if you are eating the correct portions, then the food isn’t being wasted. A typical serving of a side dish, from potatoes to vegetables, is ½ cup and meat is 3 oz. Start measuring every so often to keep portions and calories in check and get the right nutrition.
  • Save and EAT leftovers. If you are sticking to proper portion sizes, chances are you will have leftovers of food. Use this opportunity to have lunch or dinner ready for the next day instead of eating out or struggling to come up with an idea of what to cook. If you did eat out and brought home a doggy bag (since restaurant portions can be very large), be sure to eat your leftovers within a day or two.
  • Use an app to help. Handpick is a useful app that allows you to put in what items you have on hand and it will generate a recipe for you to make. There are thousands of recipes to choose from, so chances are one will appeal to your taste buds.
  • Use expiration and sell-by dates as guidelines. These dates refer to food quality and not food safety. A food doesn’t automatically turn bad on the exact date that is printed. This is just a guideline. When eating a product after the date listed, use your senses. Go by your smell, sight, and taste.

Keep Track of How Much You Throw Away

Try to start implementing some or all of these tips so you can decrease your personal food waste. Each week take an inventory of how much you had to toss and try to make it less the next week. You will end up saving money and calories, and maybe moving closer to being a zero-waste home.

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This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, Registered Dietitian and Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition calories apps food safety portion control grocery shopping food waste zero-waste saving money