March 24, 2020
Now is a great time to practice ways to stretch your food budget and reduce food waste in your kitchen.
Here are some quick tips to save money and reduce your trips to the store.
Plan Your Meals for the Week
Use what you already have, find recipes that fit how much time you have; write it down on a worksheet; and then make a grocery list. It can be helpful to make larger recipes so that you can plan to have leftovers. Keep it simple!
Think Outside the Store
In addition to your regular grocery store, you can also try the many discount grocery stores in the area as well as Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative or other CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to get the items you need.
If you are buying in bulk, check packaging dates. “Sell By” and “Best By” dates are not the same as expiration dates. If eating a food past it’s sell by or best by dates you should check for changes in color, consistency/texture to avoid throwing out food unnecessarily and to prevent eating unsafe food. Learn more about food dates and safety here.
Follow product instructions on best storage and refrigeration to keep food fresh and lasting. The Food Keeper App is a great tool developed by the USDA that offers guidelines on the best ways to store over 400 food and beverage items. They have a website and a downloadable smart phone/device app.
To Toss or Not to Toss
Check your fridge often for foods that might be going bad soon and find ways to use them up. The Food Keeper App also helps tell you when it might be best to get rid of food items, which may also help you plan your meals.
If you have made too much food and have extra freezer space, try freezing in containers and note the date of when it was cooked, following the Food Keeper guidelines on when to consume it by.
Have Staples on Hand
Nonperishables such as canned/boxed/dried soups, vegetables, beans, grains and fruits are healthy and cost efficient foods that you can keep in your pantry at all times.
Here are some easy recipes to get you started Lentil Bolognese, Mini Pizza from Bread-end-crusts or Tuna Apple Salad Sandwiches.
Other places to find great recipes that use what you already have on hand are SuperCook.com and VegetarianTimes.com.
If you are struggling to afford food, visit the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank website or call 717-547-6336 to find the nearest agency partner near you. To find out if you are eligible for food assistance, check the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program website, here.