East Side Table is a nonprofit comprised of 13 community organizations working together to make cooking at home easier for our East Saint Paul community. Through empowering individuals to improve food skills, awareness, and access to healthy foods, we can also improve the overall health and well-being of the East Side. We partner with them on our Budget Cooking class series, and they’ve put together some simple budget tips for helping shoppers save at the co-op:
Create a meal plan
At the beginning of each week, make a list of the recipes you plan to cook. Consider what ingredients you already have on hand and be mindful of foods that are in season or on sale. This will help you reduce food waste while also selecting more budget-friendly items.
Make larger batches
Cook a few big batches of recipes that make great leftovers so that you’ll have healthy, affordable lunches and snacks available for several days. Try soups, stir-fries, pastas, or roasted vegetables for tasty options to serve again and again throughout the week.
Utilize your freezer
Purchase frozen fruits or vegetables to add vitamins and fiber to your meals, stretch time in between trips to the store, and choose local when produce is not in season. Most frozen produce is flash-frozen soon after harvesting, when it is at its ripest and most nutritious.
Eat less meat
By adding a couple of vegetarian meals to your meal plan, you can stretch your budget further. For a balanced meal, start with potatoes or bulk grains, and add foods high in protein such as beans, lentils, broccoli, spinach, or nuts.
Utilize the bulk section
The co-op’s bulk section is a budget shopper’s dream! You are able to buy just the amount you need, without having to pay for packaging. The bulk spice section is a great way to save money on spices that you like or try a small amount of new-to-you spices. We also carry bulk cleaning supplies, and you can grind your own peanut and almond butters.
Be conscious of food waste
Did you know the average Minnesotan throws away almost $100 worth of wasted food a month? Make every dollar spent worth it by buying just what you need, using up or freezing ingredients before they go bad, and repurposing leftovers.
Be creative and courageous!
Don’t be afraid to substitute ingredients in a recipe for similar ingredients you already have in your pantry. Utilize dried spices, swap out vegetables based on the season, try different grains, and get creative with the food you have on hand.