3 Strategies to Stretch Your Food Dollars
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, you may have to stretch a lower income to cover regular expenses. If your income has been reduced or you have had a lot of unexpected expenses, having enough money to feed yourself and your family may be a challenge. Food is a necessity to maintain a healthy life. But other expenses may become a priority, which reduces the amount of money you can spend on groceries.
1. Eat Healthy, Hearty Foods
We need to eat regularly, not just so we don’t feel hungry, but also to help us think clearly to do daily work, to stay healthy to avoid illness, and so children can learn and grow. Food that is high in protein (meats and dairy), carbohydrates (rice, pasta, and bread), and fats (whole milk and cheese) are going to fill you up and keep you going. These are better choices than fast food, chips, crackers, soda, and sweets.
2. Plan Ahead and Cook Simple Meals
When you need to stretch your food dollars, plan simple meals with few ingredients. It isn’t about how many different foods you have for a meal, but about the amount of food needed to feed your household. Now may not be the time to get creative. Regularly take an inventory of the food in the cupboard so you can plan to use the ingredients that you have. Also, use fresh produce soon after purchasing so it doesn’t spoil. Consider buying in bulk. You can purchase grain products such as rice, pasta, and cereals in larger quantities, so that they cost less per serving. Shop sales and, if possible, buy extra of the sale items that you regularly use. Look for coupons for foods you regularly buy. This takes a little extra time but can pay off with great savings.
3. Find Resources to Help
In addition to making good use of the foods you purchase, consider checking your local community for food assistance programs. There are many programs from non-profit organizations that help local residents meet their food needs. Feeding America is a national program that helps connect people with local food banks. When you visit the website you can search for food programs in your community. Full Cart is a virtual emergency food assistance center that delivers food to you. You can find an application for the program on the website. Your community may also have emergency food programs or free meal programs that are organized by faith-based organizations.
A financial shortfall could be a short or long term situation. Staying healthy is important for your well-being. Review how you manage and prepare meals and look for additional resources that will help you during this time.
Lorna Saboe-Wounded Head is an Accredited Financial Counselor® with over 12 years of experience teaching individuals and families about personal finance topics. She has taught all ages, from middle school to older adults. Lorna likes to work with individuals and families to help them become more confident in making financial decisions.