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Create a Quarantine Grocery Game Plan

  • author name Stephanie Swavely, RD, LDN
Woman in kitchen

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.  

Check Dates 

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.

Store It

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. 

Extra Food

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 and

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.

author name

Stephanie Swavely, RD, LDN

Stephanie Swavely, RD, LDN, is an oncology dietitian and patient navigator at the Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute.

Education: A graduate of West Chester University with a B.S. in Nutrition, Swavely sits on the Board of Directors of the Central Pennsylvania Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Call: 717-544-9400

About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.


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