Oliver: When prices go up at the grocery store, tips help food dollars go further - Shaw Local

Pinching pennies might be part of my DNA. We didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up, so my mother had all sorts of ways to make her dollars go further.
Some of her methods, I recall, weren’t too popular with my younger brother and me. We were typical kids who were easily influenced by what our classmates did and had.
Perhaps at the time we didn’t really appreciate that we had garden-grown produce all year long. My mother froze and canned a lot of what she grew in our garden.
All my brother and I wanted was some name-brand mac and cheese, not the generic stuff that didn’t taste “right.”
Of course, back in those days, store brands were notoriously not that good. I remember in particular the 39-cent bread from a discount food store that even my mother turned up her nose at.
My mother always clipped coupons, she looked for the deals at the stores at which she shopped, and she was not one to pay full price for anything.
What I learned from my mother has served me well over the years, particularly when I see prices going up at the grocery store.
During Money Smart Week, put on by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, I was intrigued by one of the sessions that offered tips on eating well on a budget.
“Spend Smart. Eat Smart.” was put on by the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. I’m happy to say that I already do some of the things they suggested, such as meal plan for the week and look for produce that is in season.
Also helpful is to figure out the “unit price” of something you’re buying. A lot of stores actually put the unit price on the shelves with the products to help shoppers compare items.
This comes in handy because the smallest amount of something isn’t always the best deal. Sometimes it’s cheaper in the long run to buy the bigger size. However, you must take into consideration your ability to use the bigger amount up before it goes bad or have a place to store it.
The presenters also told us about a great resource to learn more about how to eat smart on a budget. At the website spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu, there are tools to help you figure out unit prices, menu planning help, a grocery budget calculator and information on how to read food labels.
The site also offers recipes that even a novice cook like me can follow. The best part is they include nutritional information so you can see that the recipes are not just cheap, they’re healthy too.
There’s even a section on how to incorporate more movement and exercise into your day. And videos for exercise, cooking, food preparation and food storage.
The Extension service also puts out a blog with even more information. A recent entry offered these seven tips on how to save at the grocery store.
With a little creativity and a bit of know-how, it really is possible to make our food dollars stretch while also being able to eat healthy.
In these days of inflation, it’s good to have some new tools to add to the tips I learned from my mother’s penny-pinching prowess.
Joan Oliver is the former Northwest Herald assistant news editor. She has been associated with the Northwest Herald since 1990. She can be reached at jolivercolumn@gmail.com.
A 30-year newspaper veteran who has been a copy editor, front-page editor, presentation editor, assistant news editor and publication editor, as well as a columnist and host of an online newspaper newscast.
Copyright © 2021 Shaw Local News Network
Copyright © 2021 Shaw Local News Network


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