April 27, 2009

Purdue expert: Consider nutrient content to stretch food dollars

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Making the most of money spent on food doesn't necessarily mean buying what's cheapest but getting the most nutrients for the money, said one Purdue University expert.

"With the economy as it is, more and more people are trying to make every dollar go further, so we tell people that when they go grocery shopping to buy foods based on nutrient-content," said Angie Abbott, foods and nutrition specialist for the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service. "For example, buying pop is cheaper than buying milk, but because pop has no nutritional value, they aren't gaining anything by buying the cheaper option. So even though the milk is more expensive, the milk provides many more nutrients for the money."

Abbott also suggested planning ahead to avoid spending extra money for meals out.

"By planning ahead and taking lunch or cooking meals at home, consumers can spend a much smaller percentage of their budgets on food," she said. "By making a well-planned grocery list and sticking to it, consumers can purchase only the items they are certain they need. Buying groceries in bulk when they are on sale and finding creative uses for leftovers also can save money in the long run."

Often, meat products can be among the most expensive items on the grocery list. To combat this, Abbott recommended using less meat and supplementing it with lower-cost, but high-quality proteins.

"One example of a recipe where meat can be stretched further is tacos," Abbott said. "Try using only half of the meat the recipe calls for, but use more beans. Beans offer quality proteins at a much lower cost than meat."

Abbott also suggested several other ways to make money go further at the grocery store. They include planning menus and uses for leftovers, taking inventory of foods on-hand before shopping, shopping with a list and at one store to reduce transportation costs, buying foods that are in season, using coupons wisely, shopping on a full stomach, and learning to properly store foods to reduce waste.

More information on stretching food dollars is available through the Purdue Extension foods and nutrition program at all Purdue Extension offices in Indiana. They can be reached at 888-EXT-INFO (398-4636). Information also is available on the Purdue Extension Consumer and Family Sciences home page at http://www.cfs.purdue.edu/extension/

Writer: Jennifer Stewart, 765-494-6682, jsstewar@purdue.edu

Source: Angie Abbott, 765-496-2488, abbottar@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-8415;
Steve Leer, sleer@purdue.edu
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