Stock Your Pantry & Save: Part Two

One of the best ways to help you keep your money in your wallet is to make sure you have the essentials on hand. Keeping your pantry or your fridge full of ingredients that you use often is just another way to eat smart. You can also find great deals on day-old bargains, but don’t forget to check the expiration date!

Here are some budget-friendly tips as you begin to stock up:

Breads and Grains

  • Look for bargains on day-old bread. It costs less, but is still nutritious.
  • Buy regular rice, oatmeal, and grits instead of instant to save on money, sugar, and calories.
  • Brown rice is a great addition to leftover meat and veggies. Although brown rice is slightly more expensive than white, the nutritional payoff is well worth it.
  • Choose whole-wheat pasta whenever available. Have fun adding your own embellishments (mushrooms, spices, and herbs).

Vegetables and Salad

  • Buy large bags of frozen vegetables. Seal tightly in the freezer between uses. Avoid pre-bagged salad mixes. They are usually more expensive and spoil faster.

Fruits

  • Buy fresh fruits in season—they generally cost less.
  • Frozen and canned fruits are a smart choice all year round. Look for fruit canned in its own juice to limit added sugars.

Low-Fat Milk Products

  • Buy fresh, low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese in the largest size that can be used before spoiling. Larger containers cost less than smaller sizes.

Meat and Beans

  • Dried beans and peas are a good source of protein and fiber. They last a long time without spoiling.
  • Look for specials at the meat counter. Buy meat on sale for big savings.
    • Buy meat in large bulk packages to save money. Freeze portions you might not use right away to prevent spoiling.
    • Try the newer tuna and salmon pouches, and shop for inexpensive cuts of meat that work well in stews and casseroles. Add extra vegetables and beans to make the meal go further.
    • Beans and lentils, whether canned or dried, make nutritious, hearty soups, and can be a main course with the addition of fresh vegetables or rice.

Condiments

  • Keep a selection of dried herbs, spices, curry powder, marinades, vinegars, tomato and soy sauces, along with stock cubes, in your cupboard. Experiment with the new, such as Japanese miso, an aged salty condiment made from soybeans and various other ingredients (found in the natural foods section, usually refrigerated).

The USDA offers many resources to help you create healthy meals for you and your family while stretching your food dollar:

Recipe Finder: The site contains more than 600 delicious recipes that are low cost and follow dietary recommendations. Weekly household menus can be built from these recipes.

Healthy and Thrifty Meals: Budget-friendly tips, sample menus and recipes can be found here.

MyPlate: This government website is packed with healthy eating tips, nutrition information, meal plans and an online food and activity tracker.

So what are you waiting for? Stock that pantry and see the savings!

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