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Eating Well During Inflation

The typical strategies for stretching a dollar in the grocery store become all the more important during inflation, but a coupon doesn’t do you any good when there is nothing on the shelf to use it on.

Walking into the grocery store the past years has been akin to being in a war zone. Shelves and refrigerator cases with indents of where things used to be now empty or containing significantly marked up products that are limited in supply. Shoppers roam aimlessly in a shell shocked state mumbling concern over how they will cover the cost or do without. It is a situation I never thought I would experience in my adult life. The worry, concern and stress over how to feed your family making long shadows in the aisles of the grocery store.

Growing up poor I was used to doing without. We ate a lot of foods from our own backyard that we grew from seed, preserving and freezing what we could, saving seeds for next year. This was supplemented with what we could get from food banks, local food programs and charities. Meals were often creative concoctions using what we had. Sometimes it was good and sometimes it wasn’t. Sometimes there wasn’t much at all and we learned not to be picky. I worked hard as an adult to not have that feeling again in my life. The feeling of not being able to get food, choose what I wanted to eat and not having enough. Walking in the grocery store since 2020 brought a lot of those memories back for me.

There has always been this concern about why healthier foods cost more than “regular” food. It is one of the health disparities for food access rampant in our world, not just the United States. The better quality food, even fruit and vegetables, always costing more than other things. It is why when you are struggling to cover the grocery bill, people often turn to foods that contain more harmful ingredients like extra sugars, preservatives and fillers. It is better than nothing at all, right? In some cases and for many families, yes. We do with what we have and get real about things quickly in those situations.

Aside from the typical strategies of shopping sales, using coupons and store savings cards, there are other ways a family can navigate these challenges. Preserving our health during times of high stress, of which inflation and shortages trigger, is important. This means ensuring we get as high of nutrition as possible to protect our immune system. Tips to help include:

  • Understand what your family likes and will eat and what is out. There’s no point making something that is going to be wasted when you’re trying to save money. This is a time to get creative but if there is something your family clearly doesn’t like then you could be just wasting money

  • Invest in a suitable freezer for your family. I chose an upright freezer that we keep in our garage. This style of freezer helps me keep things organized and clearly identifiable when I’m looking for something

  • Use freezer quality bags. Wrapping meats, breads and other items in their original packaging or with the label into a freezer bag helps them last longer

  • Use a black Sharpie to mark the contents of freezer meals and items in your freezer

  • Milk, butter and most cheeses can be frozen and thawed before use. This even works for special milks like oat milk and almond milk