Food prices are escalating at an alarming pace, and according to the IMF, rising food costs is driving the global inflation surge. The price of food went up by 12.4% between February and March 2022, and it’s likely that prices will continue to rise, although at a slower rate in 2023. As a result, families with a set budget for food expenses may be forced to cut down on the amount of food they purchase, or opt for unhealthy alternatives in order to cope with inflation.
While it may be harder to have access to healthy and affordable food nowadays, there are several ways to work around this problem. If your family has a limited food budget, here are some smart ways to manage your money and get the most out of your resources to beat inflation.
Do a Thorough Inventory of the Foods You Have at Home
It’s likely that you’ve forgotten about certain foods in your home, and there are some items that are about to go bad in a few days or months. Do a thorough sweep of your pantry and check the expiration dates on canned and packaged goods, then place the ones that will expire first at the very front of your storage area. Make a note of these items too. Do the same for your fridge and other places where you keep food.
Once you’ve written down all the foods that are about to reach their “best before” date, create a meal plan that involves using these items and make sure to use them up within the week. For instance, fresh veggies at the bottom of your crisper can be added to soups or stews, while a can of beans can be made into chili, hummus, or stirred into a spicy curry dish. Doing so ensures that no food goes to waste. Moreover, it enables you to stretch your food budget even further.
Be Open To Cost Effective Foods and New Dishes
Some people may balk at the thought of eating offcuts of meat, such as oxtail, beef cheek, or chicken liver. However, these are inexpensive sources of good nutrition that can benefit your family’s health. Chicken liver is rich in protein and Vitamins C, A, B12, and folate, while oxtail is rich in collagen, which can protect the joints and reduce the risks of osteoarthritis.
To get some inspiration on how to cook these foods, consider Asian cuisine, which features lots of ways to prepare offcuts. Chicken liver can be turned into adobo, which is a Filipino dish made by cooking any type of meat in water, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, bay leaf, and a bit of brown sugar. Meanwhile, oxtail can be made into Sokkoritang, a Korean dish which is essentially a clear soup that has soy sauce, hot pepper flakes, and toasted sesame seeds, among others.
If your children are hesitant to eat these unfamiliar dishes, get them involved in the kitchen. Letting them help with cooking and prepping food can make them more receptive to trying new dishes. Make sure to have a few items to keep kids safe while cooking such as a step stool, non-slip bowls, and kid-friendly knives so you can reduce the risks of kitchen accidents.
Swap Out Expensive Foods for Affordable Ones
Some foods are more expensive than others, but you can always find alternatives for them if you’re in a pinch. For example, if you always buy a premixed bag of vegetables to make a salad, swap it out for a head of cabbage and two carrots and make a slaw instead. Make a dessert with frozen berries instead of fresh ones, and use oils or applesauce instead of butter and margarine. You can also make chicken stew using boneless chicken thighs instead of chicken breast since the latter costs a little more. Finally, replace 100% juices with juice blends, or drink plain chilled water with lemon or cucumber slices for a healthier alternative.
Food is getting more expensive, but you don’t have to sacrifice your family’s health just because you’re on a budget. Consider these tips to create healthy, inexpensive and delicious meals that your loved ones will enjoy.