Stretching Your Food Dollar

Grocery shopping can be a real challenge, especially if you are on a limited budget. But because food is a controllable expense, it can be a target for reduced spending when money is tight. By planning ahead and managing your money wisely, you can still serve meals that are appetizing, easily prepared, and nutritious.

Food Shopping Starts at Home

Most of us can change our food spending habits in ways that make each food dollar go further and still improve nutrition. Before dashing out to the supermarket, it’s important to “do your home-work.” Take the time to review newspaper ads, plan meals and make a shopping list. By doing so, you are more likely to find the best buys, avoid impulse purchases and eliminate extra trips for forgotten items.

Be a smart shopper and get more for your money by deciding in advance what foods to serve for meals and snacks. As you plan your menus, follow these important steps:

myPyramid.gov MyPyramid and the Nutrition Facts Label found on food containers can be used together to help you plan your food intake. Keep in mind that information on the Nutrition Facts Label is based on an individual consuming 2,000 calories a day. When you go to http://www.MyPyramid.gov on the web, you can type in your personal information to find the amounts of calories and food that are right for you. You can do this for each family member to get an idea of how much food you need for a meal.

Another tool you can use to eat healthy is to follow the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Developed by the United States Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services, the following tips can be used for planning menus:

If there is food waste in your household, ask yourself why. Are you buying food in the right quantities? Is food refused or left on the plate? Are servings too large? Is the food cooked properly? Encourage family members to help in menu planning and meal preparation so you will have help in making decisions that affect the eating pleasure of the entire family.

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