Whether you over spent for Christmas or are simply ready to get back on track for the new year, many people like to rethink their budgets, and possibly reign in their spending, at the beginning of a new calendar year. One budget area that is easy to focus on is the food category since this is an area where we have lots of choices and the amount we spend is flexible.
Food is a flexible budget expense that can be reduced when money is tight. By planning ahead and managing your money wisely, you can still serve meals that are easy to prepare, appetizing and nutritious.
Use the following tips to help Stretch your food dollar:
* Plan meals ahead of time. Check what you have on hand in your cabinets and pantry and plan around it.
* Check newspaper ads for special sales. Planning meals around specials and seasonal food can help save money. Compare advertised prices among stores to find where you can save the most on your entire shopping list. Buy only what you can use.
* Limit shopping trips. The more time you spend in a store, the more money you spend. Food marketing reports that supermarkets generate about $130 in sales per labor hour. That means that for every minute in a store, $2.17 is spent. Go with a list, shop alone, and shop at times when stores are the least crowded.
* Stick to store brands. Store brands are 26-28% cheaper than nationally advertised brands.
* Check out unit pricing. Big packages are often more economical, but not always. Take a calculator with you to figure out the item price. To figure unit prices, divide the price of the container by the number of ounces it contains.
* Eat meals at home and take leftovers to work. Planning meals with leftovers in mind is a great way to reduce food waste and save on meal spending throughout the work week. Leftovers can be used in casseroles, soups, for snacks and in lunch boxes.
* Look for recipes that call for simple ingredients that you have on hand. Low cost, healthy recipes can be found using the United States Dept. of Agriculture recipe finder web site http://recipefinder.nal.usda.gov . This website allows you to search recipes by ingredient, cost, name, nutritional information and many other categories.
Check our website www.extension.purdue/putnam to view the most up to date info. You can contact the local Purdue Extension Office by calling 653-8411 for more information regarding column topics or to RSVP for upcoming events. It is always best to call first to assure items are ready when you arrive and to RSVP for programs. While many publications are free, some do have a fee.
Dec. 29 -- Monical's Pizza 4-H Fundrasier
Dec. 31 -- Office Closed New Year's Holiday
Jan. 7-9 -- Short Corse for Horse Breeders
Jan. 12 -- 4-H Volunteer and Leader Meeting, Monicals, 6:30 pm
Jan. 12 -- Monicals's Pizza 4-H Fundrasier
Jan. 17- Office Closed for ML King Holiday
Jan. 18-20 -- Indiana Horticulture Congress
Jan. 26 -- Monical's Pizza 4-H Fundraiser
Feb. 19 -- Putnam 4-H Beef Weigh-in, Fairgrounds