Grocery games to play with prices rising

Published 8:43 am Thursday, March 3, 2022

Today’s Special

Inflation and recent world events seem to be creating havoc with our budgets. Groceries among other things have gotten a little out of hand as of late. Earlier this week, (on a very cold, rainy and windy day) I ventured out to the local Food Giant for milk and Fritos and checked out with $106 worth of food.  And the top of my little mini-basket wasn’t even overflowing, with nothing in the lower basket except one wet, dripping umbrella.  

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But, since I was there, with ice and snow in the forecast, I also picked up eggs, cheese, ground beef, lettuce and a nice filet of salmon (it looked so good), and a few more choice items.  If I had emojis here I’d type in the one with rolling eyes. I didn’t even buy a loaf of bread. 

So, what do we do in this time of inflated grocery prices?” Save as best we can” is my best answer and here’s my game plan. Starting in the refrigerator, take a good look at the perishables, the goal is to use up everything possible. The name of this game is “nothing wasted.” 

In my produce drawer are a bag of baby carrots, six green onions, a half a bunch of asparagus, pieces of red and yellow bell peppers and less than half of an onion. Sounds like a good pan of roasted veggies, and I’ll add a few little potatoes, and two apples from the fruit drawer.  Tossed with olive oil and kosher salt it’ll be good.  

There’s enough lettuce left for a nice salad for DW and me tonight but I’ll buy no more salad dressings until we’ve used up the 5 partial bottles filling up one of the refrigerator door shelves. 

Plan B. The leftover walking taco casserole (hence the need for the Fritos) will be Sunday’s lunch and we’ll finish up the shredded lettuce, at least one of the two bottles of salsa taking up space on the top shelf, and the last piece of MSU cheddar cheese, grated will top the warmed-over casserole.  

Planning and using, or freezing leftovers for later meals makes the best use of your grocery money. No waste, it’s a game winner. 

In fact, save every little bit of food you can.  In the refrigerator freezer you might find gold or least a couple of supper possibilities in there.  After digging around I found two partial bags of chicken tenders and three also almost empty, though, mismatched bags of fries. I can bake this mixed grill of chicken and fries in my counter top oven for a quick supper.  I kept looking and found two small ears of frozen corn on the cob.  One perfect supper awaits plus more room in the freezer. Then I’ll make a bread pudding with all the leftover bread I’ve saved for such an occasion as this. 

Every little bit counts. That’s why I love those pint-sized freezer bags. Sometimes a little is all you need to make a meal. Adding leftover creamed corn, grated cheese, chopped chilis, diced onion, and even browned taco meat, will “beef” up cornbread and make it supper worthy. Save and use leftovers and doors you’ll hear a big cha-ching in the kitchen.

Next inventory your canned goods and dry food items and determine to use them up.  Do buy canned items when on sale, if you will use them. There’s nothing wrong with canned foods. Vegetables are picked in their prime for canning and have a long shelf life as long as they are unopened, not like those fresh veggies in the bottom of the refrigerator.  A can of green beans easily completes and compliments most any meal. 

Small amounts of noodles can extend soups or be made into a pasta salad.  And to save a bunch of grocery money, serve up dried beans and peas frequently in place of meat, that’s such a healthy solution to rising meat prices.  

I’m looking forward to a white bean soup seasoned with a saved ham bone with cornbread and pickles (more jars taking up fridge space) and sliced onion which counts as a fresh vegetable. Money saved!

So what if you don’t like or won’t eat leftovers?  Then share. Take a meal to a shut-in or a family you know is struggling to make ends meet or to a local soup kitchen.  No food wasted and everyone wins, or at least saves a little.  Hang in there readers, it may get worse before things get better.

Recipe of the Week

Recipe for Saving at the Grocery Store

  • Plan for and use up what you already have on hand! (See above.)
  • Use coupons on foods your family will eat.
  • Don’t grocery shop when hungry to keep from buying expensive ready-to-eat foods.
  • Plan a weekly menu, including snacks and lunches (the most effective way to save!)
  • Always consider healthy eating. 
  • Consider that an apple (banana or orange) usually costs less than a candy bar or a cola; and a head of lettuce less than a bag of potato chips.  
  • Save on meats: serve smaller portions of meat (3 ounces of beef, pork and chicken is an adequate portion for adults).  Fill up on vegetables, pasta, rice, etc. instead of expensive, excessive amounts of meat. (Healthy tip too!)
  • Buy meat that is marked down due to a quick use-by date; portion, date, and freeze as soon as possible to have for later. 
  • Extend casseroles, soups, and other combinations dishes with more vegetables, broth, rice, pasta, beans, etc.
  • Eat oatmeal, grits, whole grain bagels, and low sugar cereals for breakfast instead of expensive cereals, Pop Tarts and donuts which are also high in sugar and unhealthy carbohydrates.
  • Don’t waste food when eating out:  take home leftover portions, date and safely refrigerate for the next day’s meal. 
  • Keep a running grocery list on your phone so you’ll always have it with you.
  • Avoid extra trips to the grocery store because gas is high, too!
  • When spring comes, plant tomatoes, peppers, okra, squash, peas, beans and whatever you can to eat and share. Don’t waste sunshine either!