Even the most well off of us has noticed the rising cost of groceries. The pandemic, supply chain disruptions and worker shortage means we can expect to pay more for food for awhile longer. That might be ok for some of us, but many people live paycheck to paycheck until the paycheck just isn’t enough to get to the next payout. Rather than a list of aspirational ideas for saving money on food, I’d like to suggest two things you can do right now to keep food costs down and food on more than your own table. Here’s my proposal.
Make Your Own Staples
Staples are more than flour, bread and milk. Most of us use tomatoes, lettuce, broth, yogurt, and many other foods on a regular basis, and many of those foods can be made at home for much less than what you’ll pay at the grocery store. After all, our ancestors did it. Why not us? Here are a few suggestions:
- Grow lettuce and celery from leftovers.
- Make your own tomato sauce with tomatoes you can’t use before they go bad
- Make your own yogurt from the last bit of your store bought yogurt
- Grow your own herbs in a sunny window
Let’s start with lettuce.
A quick tomato sauce!
Note: I don’t peel my tomatoes because I’m lazy.
I had a Pakistani roommate in college who made his own yogurt, and I thought it was gross. Now I wish I had paid more attention. Y’all pay attention to this guy.
Part 2: Help struggling families
We can all do our part to make sure our neighbors get enough to eat. Never assume you don’t know someone who has food insecurity. It can happen anywhere, anytime. Please consider donating to local food banks; especially this year, as food prices rise. Many grocery stores allow you to make a small donation when you’re checking out. That makes it fast and easy to be part of the solution!
If you choose to make actual food donations, here’s a tip. Donate the smaller, 14.5 oz. cans. The big “family size” cans seem like a great idea, but keep in mind that some people who rely on food banks may be homeless and without refrigeration. I like to donate peanut butter, beans and fruit. I never go fancy and donate the hearts of palm or artichokes I’ll never eat. You know why? Because someone in need probably won’t eat them either. Keep it simple. Think like a kid. Also, keep it nutritious!
If you have time, try donating an hour or two of your time at the food bank itself. It will blow your mind at how much food is needed, and it will warm your heart to be part of the solution. You can also check with smaller pantries run by churches and community organizations to see what they need. They may be able to provide fresh foods like chicken, milk or cheese. If you’re not sure, please ask. Any organization will happily tell you what they need most!
We can survive inflation as a compassionate community, so don’t overspend your own money, and when you can, take care of your neighbors who may be struggling after two years of uncertainty.