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Every household buys groceries regularly, and in recent years there has been a sharp rise in prices for those items we put into our carts. Even with prices stabilizing over the last year, the cost of purchasing food remains a top concern for most families. As you shop your local supermarket looking for tasty foods to keep your family nourished, there are several steps you can take to keep costs under control while ensuring you get the most nutrition for your money.

Build your cooking skills

Cooking is not just a routine chore or a fun hobby, it is an essential life skill that offers numerous benefits. From improving overall health and nutrition, to bringing people together, to managing finances, the importance of cooking cannot be overstated. For example, if you do not feel confident in the kitchen and opt for restaurant meals most days, both your health and your wallet may suffer.

When you cook for yourself, you buy the ingredients and manage portions to help control what goes into your body. Even learning simple ways to assemble quick and healthy meals or how to use a slow cooker can go a long way. A budget-friendly frozen family meal like macaroni and cheese can easily be paired with frozen vegetables, or a delicious soup can be created from refrigerator and freezer staples. Look for easy recipe inspiration and try a few new recipes each week. Visit our Easy Home Meals recipes and make sure to sign up for the monthly newsletter.

Avoid waste

Reducing food waste is a great way to keep food costs down. One-third of all food in America is wasted, according to a MITRE Gallup report. That means the average family of four spends at least $1,500 annually on food that ends up being thrown out. Start by planning meals and making a shopping list. People who stick to lists tend to save time and money—and they also waste less food. And don’t forget to check out what you already have in your kitchen that needs to be used up. Turn one dinner a week into an opportunity to clear out these items. Gather all of the ingredients at risk of being wasted and let the family get creative in the kitchen. Almost anything can be tossed into soups, stir-fries, tacos, or salads.

Utilizing frozen foods can also help you reduce food waste. Not only does frozen food have a long shelf life, there are many entrees that are also naturally portion controlled. In addition, frozen foods, especially vegetables and fruits, can be prepared only in the amounts needed. This benefit helps to increase your consumption of these nutrient-rich foods, and protects that produce from ending up as waste. Another contributor to approximately 20 percent of food waste is consumer uncertainty about the meaning of the dates that appear on the labels of packaged foods, like refrigerated dairy products. Remember that “best by,” or “sell by” dates do not indicate that the food is spoiled by that date. Click here to learn more about product expiration dates.

Dispel costly food myths

It’s time to reveal the truth about a few common foods myths to understand that you can eat better without spending a lot of money. One myth is “It costs too much to eat healthy.” Yes, some foods are expensive, but healthy eating isn’t necessarily more costly. Preparing meals at home is less expensive and a well-stocked kitchen can help you prepare simple, nourishing recipes that your family will love. In addition, a good diet supports your overall health and helps you avoid a costly illness.

Another myth you may have heard is “frozen foods are not as healthy as fresh.” In terms of nutrition, frozen fruits and veggies are often picked at peak freshness so nutrients are locked in. Keeping a variety of frozen and refrigerated items in your kitchen can help stretch your grocery budget as you can use what is needed and store the rest. Also, frozen foods provide great options for a quick meal, so you don’t have to eat out. Think of these items as fresh foods that have just been frozen.

Find healthy hacks with affordable frozen and refrigerated favorites

Stock your freezer and refrigerator with affordable, nourishing products that you can use in quick and tasty meals. Here are some family favorite items and a few healthy hacks that are easy on your wallet.

For more budget-friendly meal ideas, follow @EasyHomeMeals on social!