Cadillac – Susan Earhart remembers not too long ago when she could spend $300 and walk out of the grocery store with an overflowing cart.
On Thursday, Earhart spent $80 and wasn’t even able to fill the bottom of her stroller.
“I would say the prices have doubled for me,” said Earhart, who is trying to save money in any way she can, including by economizing her shopping schedule.
“I don’t take a lot of unnecessary trips,” she said. “When I need to go shopping, I select one day of the week and try to get many different things done on that day.”
Earhart said she’s also trying to take advantage of deals, including a promotion at a grocery store that gives customers discount coupons at area gas stations.
“I got another one today for 50 cents a gallon,” Earhart said. “This makes a huge difference.”
With inflation continuing across the country, many consumers are feeling the same financial distress as Earhart, especially at the grocery store.
Anna Kahmark, a community nutrition educator at the Michigan State University Extension, said she’s been hearing a lot from clients lately about the high cost of groceries; But the good news is that there are some practical steps people can take to save money while eating healthy, too.
First things first, Kahmark said it’s more helpful to plan your meals and make a list of things you’d like to buy at the grocery store rather than just walking around and pulling things off the shelf.
Kahmark said to avoid packaged meals as much as possible. She said this is one of the most common mistakes she sees people make in the grocery store, where packaged foods end up costing more than buying fresh foods in bulk. It also doesn’t provide nearly as much food per dollar and is full of unhealthy preservatives and sodium, she added.
Buying packaged foods is especially popular among people who have never learned how to cook for any number of reasons.
For those without much experience in the kitchen, Kahmark suggests checking out the following links for some simple and cost-effective recipes:
Another thing to consider when grocery shopping is to look for foods that can be used in multiple meals. An example is chicken, which can be used in all kinds of recipes, with leftovers put in the freezer until the next meal is prepared.
Another affordable item if bought in bulk is vegetables, especially if they are raw and not pre-cut.
While it can’t be preserved as easily as meat, Kahmark said there are ways to store vegetables as well, including by canning them. For resources on vegetables and other food preservation techniques, see www.canr.msu.edu/food_preservation/. Kahmark said that MSU Extension also offers a $10 class, plus free online sessions each week.
To switch up your diet a bit and save on meat, whose prices have skyrocketed in recent months, Kahmark suggests trying a different type of protein source for meals. One idea is to use canned beans, such as chickpeas, which can be added to many recipes. As with other items, Kahmark said it’s best to avoid anything processed, including baked beans, which are more expensive and loaded with sodium.
Reducing duplicate purchases is another way to save money at the grocery store, and one of the most popular ways to do this is through substitutions, Kahmark said. For example, Greek yogurt is a great alternative to sour cream, and it’s also healthier.
When cooking for kids, Kahmark suggests thinking of ways to sneak fresh, healthy foods into meals. An example would be tossing some sliced zucchini or carrots into spaghetti sauce. add up to 2 cups of spinach to the fruit smoothie (spinach barely tastes good); Use large amounts of canned vegetables and beans in soups and stews.
One thing to keep in mind when trying to get your kids to eat healthy foods is that it takes about 10 tries before they can make an informed decision about whether or not they like a particular food. So if your child initially says he doesn’t like something, don’t necessarily give up on that item, and try to introduce it to him in different ways.
In times like these when groceries are expensive, many people stock up on cheap foods like ramen noodles.
Kahmark said ramen noodles are great if you ditch the flavor pack, which is unhealthy, and use the noodles in other recipes.
“You can save money on pasta this way,” Kemark said. “Every dollar counts.”