By Mary Johnson
Food is one of the top three categories of expenses for most people who rely on Social Security. While the price of gasoline has gone down, food costs, especially meats, have continued to climb. Here are five ways to lower the food bill:
- Choose low-cost protein sources: One of the most effective ways to cut the food bill is to learn sources of more affordable protein in the diet. Here's a chart of the least expensive:
- Cook big batches of soups, stews and casseroles, and freeze extra: Make big batches of soups, stews and casseroles, then freeze servings for one or two. All use less expensive cuts of meats, poultry, and fish. Many can be stretched and made all the more delicious with the addition of vegetables and cooked dry beans. Save the most (and cut your salt intake) by making your own stocks, rather than buying the heavily sodium-laden variety off the shelf. A simple stock or stew base requires only carrots, onion, and celery, perhaps some garlic, water, and a small amount of salt. Try growing your own parsley and thyme to add year round. Recycle yogurt, cottage cheese and other small plastic containers for freezer containers. Mark with contents and date.
- Divide family size-packages into single servings: You can’t afford to buy big packages every week, but with careful planning you might be able to buy one big package of something once a month and get enough portions to feed you for two months. Soon after purchasing (the same day is good) divide your family pack into smaller individual portions and freeze or store appropriately. Hint: Use a good cling film and wrap individual portions. Freeze in reusable zipper bags. Mark with contents and date.
- Shop the bulk bins: Stores like Whole Foods have bulk foods like dry beans, oatmeal, rice and spices. You can buy as much or as little as you need, which helps ensure freshness and flavor when cooking for one or two. Frequently the price per pound when buying bulk is much lower than packaged goods, but compare.
- Get multiple meals from one food item: Any meat, like ham or turkey, that’s relatively low cost, provides plenty of leftovers, and freezes well, is one to consider for company entertaining. After the first meal, slice the leftovers and wrap in individual servings and store in plastic zipper bags in freezer. Use the remaining bone and small meat scraps for making soups. If you can’t make soup right away, bones and scraps can be frozen until you need them.
|Protein source||Price per serving|
|Greek yogurt||About 99¢ per 6 oz. (Buy large containers for multiple servings at lower cost.)|
|Dried beans||10¢ (Dry beans are about one-third the cost of canned.)|