If I lived in a climate where I could grow citrus, I’d definitely be planting some lime trees about now (and wishing I’d planted them several years ago). The lime shortage has caused an extreme increase in the price. In recent weeks, limes at my regular grocery store have gone from 3 for $2 to 2 for $3.
Limes aren’t the only item at the grocery store affected by rising prices. For the past two months, food costs have been increasing and the grocery store sticker prices are starting to rise. Beef, pork, and poultry (the most commonly consumed meats) as well as eggs and dairy all have increasing prices. And, we’re still waiting to see just how much the California drought will affect fruit and vegetable prices this season, but predictions are that prices will increase.
To keep your grocery budget from exploding, it’s going to take some careful planning. Here are a few of the ways I plan on keeping my grocery bill under control as prices rise.
Add more meatless meals
By now, many of us have adopted Meatless Mondays or other specifically planned out meatless days into our menus. Adding a few more meatless days into your diet, and opting for lower priced proteins, will go a long way in curbing the portion of your budget that goes to meat.
Quinoa, pumpkin seeds, beans (kidney, black, lentil, chickpeas, and others), Greek yogurt, nuts, nut butters and tofu are all good sources of meatless protein. These recipes are perfect to add to meatless dinners to make sure you get your protein.
- Stir-fried Tofu with Black Beans and Chili
- Black Bean and Bell Pepper Quesadilla
- Vegan Tuna Fish Sandwich
- Vegetarian Chili
- Quinoa, Orange, Beet, and Arugula Salad with Orange Balsamic Dressing
- Cranberry Walnut Quinoa Salad
Buy from bulk bins
When you hear bulk, you may automatically think about going to the big box store and buying 20 boxes of pasta at a time to save a few pennies a box. That’s not what I’m suggesting here. I’m suggesting going to the bulk bins in your store that have dried beans, nuts, oats, quinoa, fruits, spices and more and buying just the amount you need for a recipe. The food in these bins is less expensive than packaged food and since you’re only buying what you need, you won’t spend more than you have to.
Make the best use of leftovers
No matter how small the amount, safely saving leftovers and turning them into other meals is a great money saver. I love finding recipes to use up even the oddest leftovers like tortilla chip crumbs as well as finding ways to turn leftovers from dinner into new meals.
- 10 recipes to use up leftover chicken breasts
- 7 recipes for leftover ham
- 10 recipes to use up leftover steak
- Recipe ideas for leftover spaghetti
- How to freeze leftover tomato paste
- 5 ideas for leftover baked potatoes
- 20 uses for leftover fruit and vegetable peels
- 8 ideas for leftover scrambled eggs
It’s estimated that about 40 percent of the groceries Americans buy end up in the trash. That’s not just because of uneaten leftovers. A lot of the food we buy goes from our reusable grocery bag to our pantry or fridge and eventually straight to the trash without ever being prepared to eat.
Proper menu planning and then sticking to that plan can help curb that waste. Keeping an eye on fresh produce, dairy and meat and making sure you prepare and eat them before they go bad is a money saver.
The website Shelf Life Advice can help you figure out when food is still consumable because buy-by and use-by dates stamped on foods can be arbitrary and confusing and often contribute to unnecessary food waste.
This summer if you have vegetables in the crisper that need to get used up, roast them together and try one of these ideas for 20 ways to use roasted summer vegetables.
By using these ideas, as grocery prices rise you may end up spending a little more at the grocery store than you have in the past, but you should be able to minimize how much more.
Do you have any other ideas for dealing with the rising food prices?
Related on MNN:
The opinions expressed by MNN Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of MNN.com. While we have reviewed their content to make sure it complies with our Terms and Conditions, MNN is not responsible for the accuracy of any of their information.