Save money at the grocery store. Foods to buy, meals to make to keep costs low

·4 min read
Black bean stuffed sweet potato
Black bean stuffed sweet potato

Sticker shock usually happens when purchasing a new car, not when buying your groceries. But lately, prices across the aisles at grocery stores have climbed at a fast pace.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “the all-items Consumer Price Index, a measure of economy-wide inflation, increased by 0.6% from March 2022 to April 2022 before seasonal adjustment, up 8.3% from April 2021.” And in 2022, food-at-home prices are predicted to increase between 7 and 8%.

Price increases from inflation, mixed with egg and chicken price increases caused by Avian flu, can make it difficult to plan meals and get enough groceries to feed a household.

The No. 1 tip for reducing costs at the grocery store is to buy generic brands instead of name brands. The same item can cost a lot less because there isn’t a bunch of marketing involved. If you’re hesitant to buy because you’re not sure you will like it, just buy one and try it. Savings never tasted so good.

You can optimize your groceries to get the most meals for the least amount of money. Read on to see how to use these 10 foods we recommend you keep on hand.

Spaghetti

Spaghetti is a very cheap meal. Using a kitchen scale, measure out the right amount and you won’t waste any. You can make this in a multitude of ways. Add marinara, pesto, Alfredo sauce or butter and parmesan for a variety of flavor profiles throughout a week or month. Mix in cherry tomatoes, meatballs, shrimp or grilled chicken to add even more flavor. To keep it from getting boring, add in garlic bread, breadsticks, buttered bread or homemade bread.

Rice

Rice is a versatile staple in the kitchen, and it doesn’t expire for a long time. Mix it with beans for a really cheap dish, or add in shrimp and avocado, or chicken, Greek yogurt, feta and sweet and sour sauce. Add in vegetables to make it a healthier dish. You can make it your own and try different flavors till you find what works best for your palate and wallet.

Recipe to try: Test Kitchen: Better than takeout fried rice

Frozen vegetables

Fresh produce often go bad quickly, and you toss them before you even taste them. Opt for frozen vegetables to combat this problem. They’re just as nutritious as fresh, but they don’t go bad nearly as quickly. Add them into dishes or on the side to make your meals healthier.

Canned fruits and vegetables

Another healthy and affordable option is canned fruits and vegetables. Add them into dishes or eat them by themselves to add a healthy side to any meal. Having them on hand makes it easier to be healthy and ensures that you won’t be throwing away fresh fruits and vegetables.

If you prefer fresh fruit but want it to last longer, you can keep your fruit in mason jars, or other tight-sealing glass containers, in your refrigerator. Steph Gigliotti, who is known on TikTok as @stephgigliotti28, shared her hack to keep fruit fresh. In the viral video, she mentions that if you put fruit, such as strawberries, in a mason jar and put it in the fridge, it will last for up to three weeks.

Oats

Oats are an easy, affordable breakfast. Opt for hot oatmeal with frozen fruit and nut butter, or try overnight oats with cinnamon, almond milk and vanilla mixed in for a healthy grab-and-go meal in the morning.

Oat recipe: Healthy post-workout snack to replenish lost nutrients

Potatoes

Potatoes, whether golden, russet or sweet, can be made into many different dishes. Grab a sack of potatoes and try them baked, made into wedges, cut into cubes, air-fried into french fries or cut into slices. Add spices and sauces to change the flavor throughout the week or month.

Potato recipe: Easy, healthy black bean stuffed sweet potato recipe

Canned tuna and chicken

Tuna sandwiches are easy and cheap. Spice them up with a spoonful of Greek yogurt, some pesto and slices of provolone, and warm them in a skillet for a twist on the original. Use canned chicken in recipes in which you’d use shredded chicken. Add them to quesadillas or make your own chicken salad to cut costs.

Peanut butter

If you already have peanut butter or can find brands that haven’t been recalled, you’re in luck. Peanut butter is great for sandwiches with jelly or jam, on toasted bread, mixed into oatmeal and on apples and bananas for a healthy snack. If you can’t find peanut butter, look for generic brands of almond butter.

Beans

Beans are cheap and add nutrition to any meal. Canned beans are the easiest and fastest to add to a meal. Add them into soups, burritos and salads to beef up the dish while adding a nutritious element.

Tortillas

Tortillas are a good ingredient to have on hand. Use them to make tuna wraps or wraps with lettuce and meat. Add cheese and sauce to make enchiladas. Or roll them up with peanut butter (or other nut butter) and a banana for a healthy, hefty snack. The possibilities are endless.

This article originally appeared on The Repository: Save money on groceries. Foods to buy, meals to make to keep costs low