Thrifty in the Kitchen
All of us are experiencing an increase in food prices, so perhaps this is a good time to review a few thrifty tips that might help your food budget. I was raised with a depression era phrase: "Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do. Or do without." I think it applies to our food, don't you? And we throw out almost one-quarter of our food - leftovers get pitched and produce goes by to the tune of thousands of dollars each year. So here are a few ideas for keeping a little extra money in your bank account.
Money saving tips for before you shop:
- Plan meals and weekly menus around what you have on hand in your pantry, freezer and refrigerator.
- Check weekly sales when menu planning.
- Use coupons anytime but especially on sale items (bonus savings).
- Make a grocery shopping list after the weekly menus have been planned - and then stick to it when you shop!
Money saving tips at the grocery store:
- Buy bulk - rice, dried beans, pasta - but only if you will use it up.
- Buy generic or store brand.
- Select the cheaper tougher cuts of meat (slow cook them with liquid to tenderize).
Money saving tips at home:
- Make dishes, dressings, sauces and marinades from scratch; if you purchase pre-prepped or convenience dishes or items you will pay more.
- Plan meals and dishes with less meat; fill in with the cheaper ingredients such as rice and beans.
- Enjoy more meatless meals: veggie chili, pasta with marinara sauce, lentil soup.
- Prep your produce. It is always more expensive if it has been pre-washed, peeled, cut, diced or shredded.
Don't let leftovers go by - plan to use them:
- Leftover or limp vegetables can go into soups, casseroles, meatloaf and meatballs, frittata, omelets or tossed with pasta or a salad topper.
- Leftover grains and beans can be mixed with seasonings, onions, bread crumbs and an egg to shape into homemade veggie burgers.
Know how to appropriately store fresh produce.
- Store in the refrigerator: apples, lemons, oranges, berries; asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce and other greens.
- Store at room temperature: bananas, eggplant, potatoes, onions and winter squash.
- Store at room temperature until ripe and then move into the refrigerator: avocados, kiwi, nectarines, peaches, plums and pears. Prep your own produce.
Recipes to try:
- Fried Rice with Fried Egg
- Corned Beef and Cabbage ala Instant Pot
About the Author
Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.
By: Rita Smith, RD