3 Tips for Stretching Your Food Dollars and Preventing Food Waste

I don’t know about you, but throwing food out kills me. So many people don’t have enough to eat, and I feel guilty when I do it. And, it’s also a waste of food dollars. So, what can we do to stretch food dollars, and to prevent food waste from the leftovers we so often throw out? The following tips can help.

Plan Ahead

  • Keep a list of food items or supplies that are running low.
  • Plan meals for the week based on foods you already have, in addition to special buy and sale items in grocery stores.
  • Compare prices between local stores, specialty shops, and farmer’s markets.
  • Buy only the amount of food you can store, and use before it spoils.
  • When using coupons, use only those for food/items you would normally buy, and only if a cheaper store brand is not available.
  • If using a food with which you are not familiar, be sure you know how to prepare it.
  • As much as possible, limit ready-to-eat, pre-packaged, and pre-cut foods.
  • Plan meals based on seasonal fruits and vegetables. When not in season, consider dried, canned, or frozen alternatives. For a list of fruits and vegetables by season in Florida, go to Florida Department of Ag and Consumer Services. Outside of Florida try Field to Plate or your state’s Department of Agriculture.
  • Make your list and know exactly what you’re going after.
  • Plan to go to the store when you have time to shop. Avoid shopping when you are hungry, tired, or irritable. Also, if possible, go alone, without children.
  • Avoid peak shopping times, and plan to shop when stores are less crowded.

Shop Wisely

  • Stick to your list. However, if staple items, such as canned fruit, tuna,
    Stick to your shopping list to save money.

    pasta, sauces, etc. are on sale, take advantage of the lower costs.

  • If buying a new food or food brand, buy a small amount to determine if you like it.
  • Read unit prices. Buy larger packaged items only if the unit price is cheaper, and you are sure you will use it all before it spoils or expires.
  • Buy store brands.
  • Take time to compare food items for the best buys.

Cook Smart

  • Cook large batches when possible and divide into portions. Freeze those not immediately needed.
  • Freeze leftovers and use later, either as full meals or in soups and casseroles.
  • Take leftovers for lunch.
  • Set a cooking day to prep foods for use during the week, or fully prep meals to freeze and eat during the week.

Armed with a plan, food waste can be reduced and food dollars can be stretched.


Posted: March 21, 2018

Category: Health & Nutrition, Money Matters, UF/IFAS Extension, Work & Life
Tags: Finances, Food, Grocery Shopping

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