Be frugal with your food purchases – Agweek

We took our youngest daughter to a celebratory dinner in a somewhat “fancy” restaurant. She was selected for an internship, and also got a second part-time job.

We usually go to this restaurant on birthdays or other special occasions. Usually, the line runs out the door on Friday nights.

On this very night we were seated right away. In fact, the manager seemed very happy that we chose this restaurant. We asked if we were there for a special occasion.

The next day we went shopping for some items for her first apartment as she continues her college years into the fall.

I like to salvage the furniture by repainting or sanding the wood pieces. Besides saving money, I get some personal satisfaction in making old things new again. I learned these lessons from my youth.

Jolly Garden Robinson

Courtesy Extension Service / NDSU

The parking lot to the thrift stores had many cars, and the stores were bustling with people. My husband hung on the high end cars in the parking lot. He will notice things like that.

I found this to be an interesting commentary on the current economy. Consumers are getting more and more aware of how they spend money. Saving supports the local community and prevents materials from reaching the landfill.

According to an online Resale report, 80% of consumers agree to buy used goods, which is a huge increase in the past few years. From clothing to furniture, thrift is especially popular among the high school and college crowd.

Being frugal is a good thing in that money and other resources are used with care, not waste.

In fact, the USDA’s “Farm Food Plan” first appeared in 1975 and replaced the 1962 Economic Food Plan.

With today’s rising food and fuel costs, it is a good thing to use our resources wisely. The USDA currently provides the official nutritional cost for food at home on three levels: low-cost, medium-cost, and liberal plans for children up to adults 71 and older.

For example, a 51-year-old man would expect to spend $61.20 per week on food at home for a low-cost plan, $77 per week for a moderate-cost plan and $92.30 per week for a liberal plan.

The frugal eating plan at aligns with current nutrition recommendations, represents a limited food budget, reflects what people buy and eat, and supports a healthy lifestyle.

These are some tips from the USDA to help us conserve our budget.

  • When your food budget allows, buy nutritious, low-cost foods like potatoes and frozen orange juice. These foods are good.
  • Compare the cost of prepared foods with the same foods made from scratch. “Convenience foods” are products such as fine baked goods, frozen meals, and vegetables with seasonings and sauces. Most of these foods cost more than similar foods prepared at home.
  • Try the Brand Store. They usually cost less than brand-name brands, but they taste good and generally have the same nutritional value.
  • Take the time to compare fresh, frozen, and canned foods to see which ones are the least expensive. Buy what’s special and what’s in season.
  • Prevent food waste. Only buy the amount your family will eat before the food spoils.

Staying on a food budget requires planning, and the NDSU Extension has several resources to help you out, including “Pinchin’ Pennies in the Kitchen” and “What’s Cookin’?” Series. Search online for “NDSU Extension Food Preparation” for these as well as many others.

Often times you can prepare restaurant-like foods at home that are more nutritious and often economical. Here is the recipe for baked chicken nuggets.

1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast*
1 cup cornflakes or other ready-to-eat cereal crumbs
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning or seasoning of your choice
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
Dips such as honey mustard sauce, BBQ sauce, or ketchup (optional)

Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. Put the grains in a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin or can. Add the remaining ingredients to the cereal crumbs. Close the bag tightly and shake to combine. Add a few chicken pieces at a time to the crumb mixture and shake to coat evenly. Discard any unused crumb mixture. Place the chicken pieces on a greased baking tray so that they do not touch. Bake until golden brown with an internal temperature of 165 F, or about 12 to 14 minutes.

*You can replace the chicken thighs but you have to remove the skin and bones.

Makes four servings. Without the dipping sauce, each serving contains 230 calories, 4.5 grams fat, 39 grams protein, 6 grams carbs, 0 grams fiber and 130 milligrams sodium.

Julie Garden Robinson, PhD, RD, LRD, is a dietitian and nutritionist at North Dakota State University, and a professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition, and Exercise Science. Follow her on Twitter @jgardenrobinson.

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