With extremely high unemployment rates due to the COVID-19 pandemic, millions report that their households did not get enough to eat. Data from several sources show a dramatic increase in the number of households struggling to put enough food on the table. Nearly 26 million adults — 12 percent of all adults in the country — reported that their household sometimes or often did not have enough to eat in the last seven days (Household Pulse Survey: Nov. 11–23).
How can you make your grocery money stretch further and still provide healthy, filling meals for your family? Creativity and planning are key to success. Consider these five tips to help:
- Plan your meals for the week and make a detailed grocery list. Start by looking at what you already have in your cupboards, then only buy what you need and will use during the week.
- Stick to your grocery list when you’re shopping. When it comes to vegetables, compare prices between fresh, frozen and canned. With canned goods, pick vegetables with no added salt and fruits packed in water or 100% juice. Pick frozen vegetables that are not loaded with butter, cheese or sauces.
- Cooking at home is typically less expensive than getting take-out from a restaurant. At minimum, the price tag for a family of four (two adults, two children) at a fast-food drive-thru is generally $18-$20. That same dollar amount at the grocery store can translate into a couple of very filling, nutritional options for dinner.
- Buying whole foods, in larger quantities is often less expensive than processed counterparts. For example, a block of cheese may be cheaper per ounce than shredded cheese and dried beans are cheaper than canned ones. For some, this allows for cooking food for the entire week at one time.
- Stop buying junk food. Chips, packaged cookies, soft drinks and other junk foods offer little to any nutritional value and are packed with unhealthy ingredients. By skipping the processed and unhealthy foods, you can spend more of your budget on higher-quality, healthy foods.