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  • Writer's pictureDawn Hames

Stretching Your Food Dollar (Part 1)

I have always been someone who remembered the prices of many items at different grocery stores. Over the last 2 years, I have noticed the cost of many food items has increased by a lot, and some have even doubled. This is largely due to the carbon tax, which has been fueling inflation. Almost everything we buy is transported, and this extra tax on fuel is transferred to the consumer, by an increase in the cost of goods. This is a very big problem too those on a fixed income, such as seniors, but it is even a bigger problem for those on various forms of social assistance, who are often missing the knowledge of stretching a food dollar, that many seniors grew up knowing. It has come to my attention that right now, single moms and families are often trying to balance paying the high cost of utility bills and putting food on the table, not to mention all the other costs.

Here are a few tips. 1.) Home cooking saves a lot of money. In a world full of fast food there is always a temptation to grab supper ready-made, but it costs a lot more, than making your own. The other benefits of home cooking is that you do not add unhealthy oils, excess sugar, food additives, and other food chemicals to your food. To be successful you will need a stash of recipes that use basic ingredients, that are not costly. You will also need to set up a basic pantry, of staple foods for cooking. Start to make your collection of recipes, right now. 2.) Establish your budget, how much you can afford to spend a week on food. 3.) Before you go shopping look at the grocery store flyers, and see what the specials and sales are. Keep a little notebook of prices on regular items you buy, so when you are in different stores, or looking through the sale flyers you can determine who has the best prices. When you go through the flyers, try and plan some of your meals around items that are on special. 4.) Make a menu plan for the week, based on what you have in your pantry, and what’s on sale. 5.) Prepare your shopping list. Shopping with a list helps prevent waste of perishable items, that might end up getting thrown out. Try to stick with your list, but still be flexible to change your menu if there is an in-store special that you should take advantage of. Be sure to have some fresh fruits and vegetables, and adequate protein. 6.) stay away from buying processed, ready to re-heat type foods. I know its easy, but again doing real cooking is healthier, and more cost-effective. For those that don’t have the energy to cook, and would much rather buy fast food, and heat and serve processed foods, this may be why you are too tired. Real food is real health.

Here are some meal ideas for stretching the food dollar, homemade and hearty soups such as vegetable, beef barley, and hamburger soups. A homemade soup is way healthier, than canned soup. If you buy a precooked chicken, the chicken can be used for one meal, saving the carcass, to be boiled with a bit of vinegar, and seasoning, to get an amazing collagen-filled bone broth. Then you can make a soup with the bone broth, any remaining chicken, and some vegetables or noodles. A homemade stew, beef, or chicken, you can use a small amount of meat and stretch it to serve many. A big pot of chilli, can be made once, and then used for two meals. If you use lots of beans, then the bit of meat in the chilli, completes the missing amino acid protein in the beans, for a protein-filled dish, full of beneficial fiber, to boost your gut microbiome, and thus your immune system. Eggs are a great complete protein, that is still moderately priced. If you can get them from a farmer, you are often getting eggs with more nutrition for the same price. The darker the yolk, the better the quality of the eggs. There are a lot of dishes you can make with eggs, such as scrambled eggs, French toast, frittatas and more. Watch for more on stretching your food dollar, and some recipes, part 2, next week.

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