How to Make the Most of the “Stretch Your Food Dollar” Menus: Rising Food Prices #3

Stretching the Dollar

Image by Truthout.org via Flickr

Third in a series. The first is here. The second is here.

By Peggy Jo Goodfellow, Arizona Farm Bureau

You’re clipping coupons, watching for the weekly food circular in the mail, and planning your weekly menus. But are you missing something?

Well, yes, Arizona Farm Bureau’s “Stretch Your Food Dollar” Menus!

Arizona Farm Bureau began quarterly market basket surveys the fourth quarter of 2006. While the surveys are unscientific, they serve as a clear gauge of actual price trends across the state.

When the financial downturn hit in 2008, Farm Bureau decided to take the market basket to the next level by putting together a menu utilizing items that have gone down in price to help Arizona families stretch their food dollar. The “Stretch Your Food Dollar” menus, recipes and additional savings tips began the first quarter of 2008.

Amidst today’s raising food prices, key strategies to the “Stretch Your Food Dollar” menus and recipes will help you really save on food.

Here are some tips to get the most “stretch” from your food dollars:

1.     Use the “Stretch Your Food Dollar” menu as a springboard to create your own menu. Create meals around the items down in price. If potatoes are down in price, for example, think of the different ways your family likes potatoes, then create a meal around your favorite potato recipes.

2.     Use the “Stretch Your Food Dollar” menu to take advantage of using a menu sourced and developed by veteran cooks. Arizona farm and ranch families, veteran cooks on staff, and local chefs provide recipes for us to use in our “Stretch Your Food Dollar” menus.

3.     Stretch main food items on your grocery list from one meal to another in the same week. For example, buy a roast that is a little larger than your family will eat at one meal. Cook the roast on Sunday and use the leftovers for barbecued beef sandwiches on Tuesday night. Arizona Farm Bureau’s “Stretch Your Dollar” menu works on this premise on a regular basis to maximize on those value items.

4.     Substitutions are encouraged. If you feel you can’t build a menu using an item that is down in price from Arizona Farm Bureau’s market basket, keep in mind its related food groups to still source for value. For example, one item in Farm Bureau’s market basket is orange juice. Other than being a good source in vitamin C and a great part of your balanced breakfast, it’s hard to build an entire meal around this item.  But if orange juice is down in price, it might be an indication that citrus, in general, is pricing better in the grocery store.

5.     Compare the down in price items from Arizona Farm Bureau’s market basket to your grocery stores weekly circular and get the very best price on your menu items.

6.     At a minimum, always check the suggested shopping tips Arizona Farm Bureau provides with every “Stretch Your Food Dollar” menu to see what they’re recommending. Overall, the menu is simply a guide to planning a week’s menu since items focused on reflect down-in-price food items.

Is there an aspiring chef in your household? Let them help you. Cooking can be fun for the entire family!

Remember to regularly check Arizona Farm Bureau’s Fill Your Plate to discover ongoing tips on stretching your food dollar, nutrition and much more. The Fill Your Plate blog has new articles weekly related to food and nutrition.

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