10 ways to save money at the grocery store
A healthy and active body is dependent on consistent access to an adequate and nutritious diet. However, many families struggle to provide enough food for their families. It is reported that 13.5 million U.S. households were food insecure at some time during 2021.
Food insecurity means that families might not have enough money to buy food each month; the food they have at home doesn’t last them the whole month; or family members are eating less than they should for fear of running out of food.
In California, one in 11 people – and one in eight children – face hunger. There are many circumstances that might cause food insecurity in families like chronic medical conditions that cause a lost of income; a personal crisis or lost job; and inflation.
What happens when a child faces hunger?
Unfortunately, a child struggling with hunger may experience physical and emotional symptoms like:
- More frequent colds and stomachaches.
- Increased hospitalizations.
- Risk of developing iron deficiency anemia.
- Increased developmental risks.
- Social and behavioral problems.
- Poor educational performance and academic outcomes.
10 Tips to help stretch your food budget
- Reduce food waste.
- The USDA estimates that the average family of four wastes about $1500 per year in spoiled food.
- Store excess foods such as nuts, bread, meat, and leftovers in the freezer
- Revive wilted lettuce, celery, or carrots by submerging in a bowl of cold water and place in the refrigerator overnight
- Use overripe bananas for smoothies or baking
- Make croutons or breadcrumbs out of stale bread
- Frittatas, stir fries, soups, and one-skillet meals are great ways to repurpose leftovers or use up veggies that are about to spoil
- Create new meals using leftover ingredients in your fridge. Enter 2-3 ingredients you have on-hand into an internet search engine to provide you with multiple recipe ideas.
- Store food properly.
- Store bananas, apples, pears, stone fruits, and avocados separate from other produce to prevent spoilage
- Store potatoes, onions, and garlic in a cool, dark place
- Wash berries just before eating to prevent molding
- Remove the greens before storing your root vegetables. Don’t through out the greens though. Sauté beet greens in a stir fry, add radish greens to a salad, or reserve carrot tops to use in a pesto
- For more tips on proper food storage download the FoodKeeper app FoodKeeper App | FoodSafety.gov
- Save on products that you can make at home.
- Make homemade stock using veggie and meat scraps that you would otherwise through away. Keep a large container in the freezer to collect the scraps, once full, simmer in a pot of water on the stovetop.
- Make your own sauces and salad dressings. Save your leftover brine when finished with the pickle jar, olives, or feta. The brine is a combination of vinegar, salt, and often sugar. Just mixed with oil to create a salad dressing.
- Purchase canned and frozen fruits, veggies, and seafood.
- These foods offer many of the same nutritional qualities as their fresh counterparts without the added costs. The added benefit is that there is reduced food waste!
- Stalk up on pantry staples
- Stocking up on inexpensive items such as pasta, rice, oats, dry or canned beans and lentils can help when you are in a pinch.
- Decrease the purchase of convenience foods.
- Choose block cheese over cheese sticks or shredded cheese.
- Choose lettuce over salad kits.
- Pack your leftovers for lunch in place of frozen meals.
- Purchase store-brand products.
- Switching to store brands for staples such as peanut butter, milk, cheese, bread and eggs can save over $10 per trip.
- Buy whole chicken or chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts.
- You can save over 60% by purchasing whole chicken over chicken breasts.
- Try meatless meals.
- Meat and poultry can be expensive. Substituting a few vegetarian meal options into your weekly routine is a great way to save on your monthly grocery bills.
- Use a shopping list and don’t go on an empty stomach. This will help decrease impulse purchases that you don’t really need.
My family is struggling with food insecurity, where can I find help?
- All children in California are eligible for a nutritious breakfast and lunch at school
- There are programs for meals at home during summer and other school breaks
At food pantries
- Good for short-term help.
- Many community and religious organizations throughout Southern California provide groceries to families in need. Many don’t require any information.
- A list of food pantries in your area can be found at findhelp.org or 211info.org, or by dialing 2-1-1 or 866-698-6155.
With government assistance programs
- This is a more consistent source of support for families that meet the income thresholds.
- CalFresh, also known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), EBT or food stamps.
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
- Supplemental food support for women, babies and children up to age 5 years.
- Click here for more information on eligibility and how to apply
For more health and wellness resources from the pediatric experts at CHOC, sign up for the Kids Health newsletter.
How to prevent and treat respiratory illnesses this season
Unfortunately, many kids get infected with respiratory illnesses in the fall and winter seasons. CHOC experts highly encourage all eligible members of households to receive their annual flu shots. Other preventative measures like good hygiene and staying home when sick can help protect families from illness. The following articles and guides provide more information.
At CHOC, we specialize in providing a full continuum of pediatric nutrition services, including inpatient and outpatient services, depending on our patients’ needs.