Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Family Food Prices in 2014

Climate change, draughts in California, growing ethanol production, higher oil prices reduced soybean yields in South America, the Arab spring and monstrous wildfires in Russia have all come together to drive world prices of those basic foodstuffs drastically higher in the last few years. From coffee to poultry, from grapefruits to that soy based margarine in the refrigerator, almost every food substance Americans has raised an average of 5.2% over the last 12 months. That means a family of four who spent $150 a week on meals now pays an extra $10 a week on food.

Here is my top 10 ways to save those precious food dollars and still provide nutritious, healthy meals for your family in 2014.

10. Stay home to eat. Some internet articles bestow virtue on restaurant dining, saying that the price per meal is cheaper, maybe, but, what about the leftovers? The fact is home prepared meals cost an average of 50% less than eating out. Besides, you control the quality and content of sugars and salts going into your food.

9. Use those coupons judiciously. Don't buy just because you have a coupon. Rather, plan your meals around the coupons you do have. That is part of the beauty of meal planning.

8. Think caveman. Cavemen didn't eat all that much meat, heck, mastodons were not easy game. The Paleo diet has many people thinking meat, try going a little vegetarian once in a while. Mac and cheese, green bean casserole, mushroom soups are all crowd pleasers and remove the stigma of vegetarianism.

7. DO NOT EAT PROCESSED FOOD! A friend of mine gained over 200 pounds, wrecked his knees and contracted diabetes just by consuming 8 cans of soda a day for two years. Think of the added sugar in that! There are 10 teaspoons of sugar in the average soda and can contain as much as 50 milligrams of salt. And that's only a soda, think of soup or frozen pizza or that can of refried beans? Point is, fresh, nutritious, tasty homemade is far superior and cost more than 50% less food dollars.

6. Never shop hungry. Yeah, call it impulse buying. Have an apple or a cheese stick when meal planning, preparing that grocery list or at your grocer can curb those binge buys.

5. Don't shop the middle. Weather it is the middle of the store or the middle shelves, those items are placed there for a reason. Go bargain hunting, shop at the top and bottom shelves and stay out of the middle of the store.

4. Plan leftovers. Most people, when meal planning, forget there may be excess. Turn leftover mac and cheese into a tuna casserole. Turn extra burgers into sloppy joe's or spaghetti sauce. Turn steak into beef stroganoff. Think about the return on investment.

3. Watch for manager specials. Those best used by dates are the manufacturer's suggestions. Fact is food remains palatable and tasty long after without being degraded. Also, as long as a can has not been punctured, most dented cans are a valuable buy.

2. 10 for $10 is a fool's game. Grocers are relying on our greed and ability to hoard. Buy what you need and don't let them get into your head.

1. Check out The One Dollar Cookbook. A savvy new look at meal preparation and cost avoidance that stresses variety, nutrition and cost effectiveness for the average family. Every serving is under a dollar and the book is directed towards limited incomes, fixed incomes, students and anyone suffering from the food cost inflation in 2014.

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