Grocery prices reach 40-year high; WBRC is On Your Side with cost-saving meals

Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 11:48 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) – Prices at the grocery store continue to climb, with the latest data showing food costs up 1.1% in July, and 10.9% from the same time last year.

The food at home index rose 13.1% in the last year, the largest 12-month increase since March 1979.

Cereal and bakery products are up 15%, fruits and vegetables have increased 9.3%, and dairy and related products are up 14.9%, according to the latest Consumer Price Index Summary.

These increases mean it is getting harder to feed your family on a budget. We enlisted the help of Tori Faught, a registered dietician with UAB’s Department of Family and Community Science, to share affordable and healthy recipes.

“Number one was budget. And the other things I was looking for was time efficient. I’m not one who likes to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so something that could be made and prepped within 20-25 minutes or less,” explained Faught.

Faught said one way to save big is to opt for frozen or canned vegetables over fresh.

“Produce is very expensive right now. So, looking for low-sodium options for your vegetables,” said Faught.

She also suggested trying canned meats, like chicken or salmon, to save money.

“I highly recommend trying to have one protein at each eating occasion, whether that’s a plant source or animal source, so if you buy meat in bulk, if you buy more than one pound at a time, it’s a little cheaper,” Faught said. “You may save 50-cents a pound and you can freeze some of it, for maybe a meal later in the week or the next week.”

With a little under $40, Faught used these tips to put together three nutritious and delicious meals.

Quick Skillet Lasagna:

  • 1/2 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 pound ground beef (90% lean)
  • 1 can tomatoes (14.5 oz)
  • 1 can tomato paste (6 oz)
  • 1 parsley, fresh (1 Tablespoon, optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 garlic powder (1 teaspoon, optional)
  • 2 cups egg noodles (cooked)
  • 3/4 cup cottage cheese, low-fat
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Chop onion. Cook beef and onion, in the frying pan until beef is brown and onion is tender. Drain off excess fat.
  2. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, parsley, water, and garlic powder to the beef mixture. Bring to a boil and simmer until sauce is thick, about 25 minutes.
  3. Cook noodles in the saucepan according to package directions. Drain.
  4. Add cooked, drained noodles to the beef mixture. Stir to prevent sticking.
  5. Mix cheeses and drop by spoonfuls into the frying pan.
  6. Cover and heat over low heat about 5 minutes. Refrigerate leftovers.

Taco Bowl:

  • 1 white onion (chopped)
  • 1 green pepper (chopped)
  • 1 can diced green chilies (4 oz)
  • 1 can black beans (no sodium or reduced sodium) (15 oz)
  • 1 can golden sweet whole kernel corn (no sodium or reduced sodium) (15 oz)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (low or no sodium added) (14.5 oz)
  • 1 can low sodium chunk chicken breast (12.5 oz)
  • Brown rice
  • Taco seasoning
  • Olive oil or canola oil for pan

Directions

  1. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to skillet over medium-high heat and sauté onions and peppers until onion is translucent.
  2. Drain beans, corn, tomatoes and chicken and add to skillet. Add green chilies and taco seasoning.
  3. Mix well and cook on low until warmed through.
  4. Serve over cooked brown rice.

Easy Fried Rice

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • 3 1/2 cups brown rice, cooked and chilled
  • 1 can cooked chicken breast (15 oz)
  • 1 bag frozen stir dry vegetables (20 oz)
  • soy sauce or hot sauce (optional, to taste)

Directions:

  1. Cook stir-fry vegetables according to package instructions.
  2. Add oil to pan over medium-high heat and add vegetables and canned chicken breast.
  3. Heat until chicken is warmed through. Move ingredients to one side of the pan.
  4. Add eggs on the empty side of the pan and scramble. Once cooked, mix with chicken and vegetables.
  5. Add cold rice and stir until heated through.
  6. Add soy sauce to taste.

A quick budgeting note, some of the items purchased for these recipes are probably already in your cabinet, like olive oil, spices and soy sauce. If we omit those items from the bill, the total cost for the three meals is $31.19, before tax.

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