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5 tips to stretch a buck, shop smarter, and cut food waste


Trying to manage your food budget and make sure better-for-you meals stay on the menu?

The Nutrition & Health Sciences team shares their favorite ways to stretch your food budget and balance your nutrition goals.

Be a bargain shopper

When it comes to managing a food budget, coupons and bargain shopping are key.

Explore the Sunday paper, coupon apps, and the quick sale racks. Get the most out of your coupons by saving them to use on sale items. Check out the discount racks when you’re in store, especially for fresh items. Slightly bruised or extra ripe produce can still have a lot of life left and cost a fraction of the price of the freshly stocked produce.

Add more beans and pulses to the menu

Move over chicken, there are other proteins in town. Beans and peas are less expensive than meat and these plant-based protein foods provide fiber, iron, folate and are important to digestive health. Want some?

Try Eggplant Steaks with Roasted Chickpeas & Tomato Balsamic SauceGreek Salad and Hummus Sandwich, and Cauliflower and Lentil Stew as delicious ways to add more plant protein into meals.  Slow Cooker Corn and Chicken Chili is a delicious recipe that pairs beans and chicken for a protein punch and tons of flavor.

Stock and restock like a pro

An unorganized fridge can lead to spills, moldy messes and “questionable” meat. The First-in, First-out (“FIFO”) method cuts down on food waste and saves you money. Restaurants, professional kitchens, and supermarkets use FIFO to make sure they use or sell all their food before it goes bad.

Use FIFO in your own home to help you stay organized and keep track of your pantry and fridge. When you restock, put your newer items behind the older ones. Once you open a packaged good, be sure to write the date on the lid so you know how long it has been open. FIFO can help you save money and avoid throwing away expired foods, all while making the most of your food storage space.

Transform leftovers

Most of us can’t cook elaborate meals every night, but your family may not love leftovers. Save time and keep dinner interesting by transforming leftovers into a new meal for another night without starting from scratch.

For example, Sunday dinner might be salmon, brown rice, and assorted veggies. Cook extra salmon to use in salmon burgers another night. Extra brown rice and veggies become a black bean burrito bowl for Monday with a can of lower sodium black beans and Pace salsa.

Later in the week, make a double batch of chicken and serve once with veggies and couscous and another time with pasta topped with Prego Farmers’ Market Italian sauce. Transforming leftovers reduces food waste, saves time, and keeps dinner delicious and inventive.

Choose all forms of fruits and vegetables

Be a thoughtful shopper and include a variety of forms of fruits and veggies, including fresh and frozen, canned, and 100% juice.  Use your fresh produce first and then turn to other forms later in the week. This helps you cut back on food waste, save money, and add more variety to your diet.

We hope these tips help you stay in budget while keeping meals convenient, delicious, and exciting!

For more information on eating well for less, check out this article.


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