It’s not your imagination. Thanks to supply chain issues that have been happening throughout the pandemic, food prices are rising. Price increases have been more apparent on items like chicken and beef, but overall the prices of food are up about 3 percent across the board. Though 3 percent may not seem substantial, when 59% of New Mexicans are having to choose between paying for medical care or buying food on a regular basis, it makes that situation worse. This affects our whole community, including our Storehouse clients. As a result, we want to share some tips from the Storehouse about how to save money on food. If anyone knows how to stretch a food dollar it’s a food pantry. We also gleaned lots of information from other news sources.
Tip 1: Check Out Unit Prices on Food
Sometimes we assume that bulk pricing is the way to go. But, bigger doesn’t always mean cheaper. In fact, it can lead to buying more than you need and having that food go to waste. Instead, look closely at the price per unit. You can find it on the shelf stickers for each item in the grocery store. If it’s something you’ll use a lot of, bulk or larger packing might make sense for you. But, the price may actually be cheaper for smaller packages. That will help your weekly grocery bill.
Tip 2: Say No to Name Brand Foods
While we may hear more about brand name foods like Jiffy peanut butter or Campbell’s soups, that is because they have the advertising dollars that make them come to mind. While they do have good products, the store brand is often far less expensive than the national name brands. The Storehouse almost always purchases the store brand or generic items because they taste good and they are a lot lower in price. That’s part of the way we save on food expenses and you can, too.
Tip 3: Go Meatless to Save Money
You’ve probably noticed that the Storehouse shares meatless recipes frequently on our social media channels. We do that for lots of reasons. It’s a reminder that meatless recipes can be filling and easy to make, which is great for our food pantry clients. But, it’s also better for everyone’s grocery bill. Not to mention it’s less harmful for the planet to eat plant-based foods. Not into tofu? That’s okay. Cheese and hearty vegetables are filling without having meat.
Don’t want to cut out meat entirely? That’s completely fair. In our country, people definitely are used to having some beef, chicken, or fish on their dinner plates. We regularly have all of these options at the food pantry for our clients, too. But, consider at least skipping meat just one or two days a week. Or, choosing different cuts of meat that are less expensive. Paying attention to what’s on sale an looking at the unit cost is also a great idea. For meat, look at the price per pound and buy only what you need. Experts recommend about 1/4 pound per person. Those savings will add up in the meat department. And, as the largest expense most consumers have in the grocery store, it will help your overall grocery bill.
Tip 4: Beans & Veggies – Switch to Frozen and Dry Goods to Boost Your Food Dollars
At the Storehouse we have tons of canned goods because they are the easiest types of food for us to store. They are shelf stable and last a long time. That makes them a must at the food pantry. However, at home, to save on your food bill, consider swapping out canned beans, veggies and fruits for their frozen or dry varieties. Dried beans, for example, are far cheaper than canned. Yes, they take a bit more time to soak and cook, but the price savings is huge. Ditto for frozen items. Frozen veggies store very well and their bags come in sizes from small to large, serving the needs of all households. They last well in the freezer and are easy to heat and eat. Frozen fruits can also make great smoothies and other treats. Frozen foods also have great nutrient content, often as good or even better than fresh or canned items. Cheaper and good for you? What’s not to love about those savings?
Tip 5: Plan Ahead to Save on Food
Planning ahead is something that helps us all in so many areas of life. That’s true at the grocery store, too. Before you hit the grocery store, make your meal plans for the week. First, look at any items you already have on hand and work from there. That’s especially true of fresh items. Don’t let them go to waste! Use or freeze them so you can eat everything you purchase. Second, write down what you plan to make for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as snacks. That will help you make a list of exactly what you need. Lastly, stick to that list! Don’t get distracted by displays. If you can avoid it, don’t go to the store when you are tired and hungry. That’s definitely a recipe for trouble. If you are armed with a plan and a list, you can save money and still have the food you need in your household.
Grocery stores really do try to sell you more. Check out this article for tips and what to watch for.
Tip 6: Count on the Storehouse
Hopefully these tips will help you save on your groceries despite today’s higher food prices. And, if you cannot buy enough food to ensure you or your family have the meals they need, remember the Storehouse is here to help. You can come by the food pantry one time a month and leave with a cart full of groceries. That includes meat, dairy products, fresh fruits and vegetables. Not to mention, lots of canned and shelf stable food, too. All you need is an ID. The Storehouse food pantry is located at 106 Broadway SE in downtown Albuquerque. We are just south of Central on the east side of the street. We are open Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday mornings from 9:00 am to Noon. Please come by if you need us. That’s why we exist. And feel free to share this resource with others who are struggling right now. Find more information on how to get food, including our operations calendar.