How to eat healthy even with rising food costs


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Eating healthy is crucial for a person’s overall well-being. Aside from maintaining physical and mental health, a healthy lifestyle can also help financial well-being. Rising food costs make it more difficult to get nutritious foods.

Inflation in food prices contributes to food insecurity, healthcare costs and health insurance. Maintaining a healthy diet while spending less money can help you overcome challenges and prevent various health-related issues.

Food and health facts

The Challenges of Food Inflation

Inflation’s impact can be felt in various sectors. For instance, food prices in the U.S. have shown an upward trend since the start of the year. The 12-month percentage increase was 10.9% in July 2022, the highest recorded jump since May 1979. This is also 1.1% higher than the food price inflation recorded a month ago.

Families all over the country are experiencing the impact of food price inflation. Aside from higher expenses affecting people’s finances, high food costs may also contribute to food insecurity.

Related: Inflation skyrocketing your food costs? Score free food by doing this

Inflation skyrocketing your food costs? Score free food by doing this

Do you like free food, but it’s nowhere near your birthday? If you have a smartphone and are willing to download some apps, you can still score some free food.

Fast food is a guilty pleasure for many of us, especially when life is crazy and you need food fast or when you need a pick-me-up at the end of a rough week. Your guilty pleasure just became a little less guilty because these 24 food apps will reward you with free food and meal deals when you sign up.

Want a quicker way to sign up for these food apps? Just log in using your Facebook account, which most apps have enabled as an option. For those who don’t want their personal accounts connected to their food apps, just connect a separate Facebook account for deal apps and coupons. Having a separate email account for sign-up offers will also keep your main account from filling up with spam.

Here are the apps that will give you free food when you sign up:

Photo by Eaters Collective on Unsplash

The 7-11 app hooks you up with 800 free points, which can be redeemed for one of the following – Big Gulp, medium coffee or hot beverage, donut, fudge brownie or 2-pack cookies, Taquito, chips, medium Slurpee, or medium CHILLERS iced coffee. Through this app, you will also earn points for every dollar spent and bonus points for designated menu items.

Download their myAuntiAnne’s Pretzel Perks and get a free pretzel after your first purchase. Kinda free food, since it’s really tied to their reward program, but if you go there at all you can get yourself a free pretzel!

The AMPM Power Scratch app gives you three free scratchers upon sign-up and three free scratches daily if you check in at an ampm. You don’t need to visit the store to check in, just be within a mile or two of the store. You can win anything from free hot dogs, coffee, hamburger and even free gas and gift cards.

Download the Baja Fresh app and get a free taco (Chicken or Carnitas Baja or Americano Taco) with any purchase.

New BJ’s appusers will earn a free mini pizookie once they register for a premier rewards account. The app also allows members to earn points for every dollar they spend and to redeem deals.

You can earn 10 points every time you check in at Buffalo Wild Wings and 100 points for $10 spent. These points can then be redeemed for free food, such as a loaded ice cream for 250 points.

The Burger King app sounds the most promising since they offer $30 worth of food coupons after signing up through the app. However, once I signed up, I only saw a BOGO Whopper coupon. The rest were slightly discounted meal deals – no free food.

Chick-fil-A– While Chick-fil-Adoes not give you a free perk upon downloading the app, you will earn free food periodically. Many times, a free menu item will appear on your app just because. You can also earn free food by purchasing food through their app, and if you haven’t connected your cow calendar card to your app, you are missing out. If your restaurant is out of calendars, you can buy one on eBay! With the cow calendar, you will receive a free food item each month.

Signing up for the Chili’s app was by far the most time consuming. You will receive free chips and salsa and 60 points within 48 hours of signing up for the app, and you can earn one point for every two dollars you spend, which can then be redeemed for free food items.

As soon as you verify your account, Chronic Taco will reward you with 50 points. With these points, you can receive an order of free churro bites for 25 points or a free taco for 50 points. You will then earn one point for every dollar you spend at Chronic Taco.

When you sign up for the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf app, enter a friend’s code into the promo code field and you get a free drink after your first purchase. Don’t have a friend, then consider me your bestie and pretend we are meeting for coffee. My code is: AshleyEne8068. Once you download the app, make sure to get your unique referral code and force-ask your friends nicely to sign up so that you earn even more free drinks! Through the app, you will also earn a free birthday drink and a reward point for every dollar you spend. You will earn a free drink or pastry for every 50 points you collect until you reach Platinum level at 300 points. Once at Platinum level, you can then earn a free drink or pastry for every 40 points you earn. Sound complicated for a reward system? We were thinking the same thing, but we won’t turn our noses at free drinks.

Through the Denny’s app, you can earn a free Grand Slam meal on your next online order.

Earn a free medium two-topping Dominos pizza after six orders of $10 or more.

You can receive a free beverage upon signing up for Dunkin’ Donuts’ reward program. The only catch is that you need to sign up with a gift card or load one for at least $2. You will also earn a DD perk on your birthday and for every 200 points you earn.

Jamba Juicewill give you $3 off your order once you activate your account. This $3 can score you a free pastry, but all of their smoothies are over $3 (the kid smoothie is $3.19), so expect to pay a little out of pocket. You can then earn more discounts once you earn 35 points.

Krispy Kreme rewards new sign-ups with a free doughnut, and you will also receive a free doughnut on your birthday. For true Krispy Kreme fans, you can earn free boxes of doughnuts and beverages after so many purchases.

Once you sign up for the McDonald’s app, you will have access to free food and coupon offers. For example, on Fridays, you can receive a free medium-sized fry with any purchase. Additionally, McDonald’s also offers separate McCafe rewards which allows you to earn a free drink after purchasing five.

MyPanera Rewards gives free rewards to members for spending and just because. For example, in December, I was able to redeem a free bagel every day of the month. Similarly, I had a month where I could redeem a free coffee every day of the month. Members will also earn a free treat when they sign up for the app and for their birthday. After so many visits, you will also receive a free meal or food item.

For every $5 you spend, you can earn a point for the Papa Rewards program. Once you reach 25 points, you can redeem your points for a large three-topping pizza. You can also redeem lower levels of points for other food items. Check out these seven Papa John hacks for even more pizza savings.

Earn a free small sub or Gyro Flatbread with any purchase after downloading the app. You will also earn a free sub once your account reaches 70 points. You can earn 10 points by connecting through Facebook and one point for every dollar spent.

Red Lobster has a My Red Lobster Rewards app that is a loyalty program. You earn points for every dollar spent and start getting rewards at 125 points. When you sign up, you get 75 points, so it’s a start, though not technically a freebie (yet).

Starbucks’ reward program is nothing to write home about, but you can earn a free beverage or meal item for every 125 stars you earn. You will also earn a free birthday drink. Earn bonus stars with periodic challenges, such as buying a certain drink five times within a week.

Immediately after verifying your account, you will receive three offers on the app – a free medium slushie, a coupon for a half-off blast, and an offer for a $1.99 Wacky Pack, which is their kid’s meal.

At TCBY, earn a $3 reward for every $30 you spend or for every friend you refer. Once your friend spends $5, you will receive your $3 reward.

Earn a free appetizer or dessert after signing up on the TGIFriday app. My free coupon was emailed within minutes of signing up on their app and can be redeemed through email, but the coupon does not actually show up in my app. You can also earn points for every dollar spent, which will then earn you free rewards like a free dessert for 50 points or a free sandwich or burger for 80 points.

Right out the gate, Wendy’s will set you up with BOGO food offers and dollar-off discounts for their food.

Whataburger’s special – Earn a free food item after five visits.

Sadly, not every restaurant that offers an app will give you a freebie just for downloading. 

Don’t see your favorite restaurant on the previous list? They may have a freebie. When we did research for this article, we ran into quite a few restaurants that didn’t give away anything for installing their app.

They still might have an app and reward program, though. It won’t come with free food right off the bat, but I wanted to share a shorter list just so you don’t go wasting your time searching.

  • Applebees
  • Baskin Robbins (discounts offered but no free offers)
  • Chipotle (sign up for their text notifications for food offers)
  • iHop
  • Jimmy John’s
  • Olive Garden
  • Panda Express
  • Red Robin (adding Red Robin here because their app is no longer listed for download, but you might still get free food through joining their online Royalty program)
  • Taco Bell (there is an offers page, but I never received an offer)
  • Wing Stop

This article first appeared on and was syndicated by


Food price inflation endangers food security.

Food prices play an important role in ensuring food security. The rising food costs may prevent individuals and families from accessing nutritious food necessary to stay healthy. This may lead to various issues, including a change in eating habits, malnutrition, developing chronic illnesses and greater odds of being hospitalized.

Food price inflation makes it more challenging to get healthy foods.

Affordability is one of the factors individuals consider when making a purchase. Rising food inflation can make it harder to get the right types of food. Additionally, availability can also be an issue.

Price increase varies per food item, with eggs having the highest increase.

The rise in food costs can be observed in almost all types of foods. However, price changes may vary. Based on the latest Consumer Price Index report, eggs recorded the largest annual price growth of 38% in July 2022. They were followed by butter and margarine (26.4%), flour and prepared flour mixes (22.7%), coffee (20.3%) and other fats and oils, including peanut butter (19.4%). Healthier options, such as fruits and vegetables, were 9.3% more expensive than a year ago.

Poor diet leads to billions of dollars in healthcare costs

Poor eating habits among Americans cost the country $50 billion per year in healthcare costs. Many individuals may settle for high-calorie foods and those with lower nutritional value. This may lead to various chronic diseases like obesity, heart diseases, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Thus, causing higher healthcare costs and needs.

How Foods May Influence Your Physical and Financial Health

Eating healthy meals helps the body in a lot of ways. It allows each part to function correctly, which ensures good physical health. However, the impact of an individual’s diet goes beyond their body. It can also contribute to financial health.

Physical and financial health are highly connected. Being able to afford healthy foods can prevent substantial medical expenses. On the other hand, struggling physically or financially can cause stress that may trigger unhealthy habits.

That’s why eating healthy is something every individual needs to fulfill. Knowing how to obtain healthy foods amid food price inflation can help.

Unhealthy eating habits lead to higher healthcare costs

Unhealthy diets account for almost 20% of healthcare costs for cardiometabolic diseases (CMD), such as heart diseases, stroke and diabetes. It’s among the leading causes of poor health, which accounts for up to 45% of CMD-related deaths. The average cost of CMD-related expenses due to poor diets is $301 per person, translating to around $50 billion nationally.

Various chronic diseases are due to poor diet

Due to unhealthy eating habits, 60% of adults in the country have one or more diet-related chronic diseases. These include being overweight and obese, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis and reduced muscle strength.

Having a chronic disease changes your health insurance needs

Chronic diseases cause illness, disability and death. Health insurance providers have rules and restrictions when it comes to chronic diseases. Make sure you review these when choosing a plan.

If you’re concerned about getting diagnosed with a chronic illness, you may consider getting chronic illness insurance. It’s a type of insurance that pays the policyholder in the event of an illness diagnosis causing the inability to perform certain daily activities.

What you eat affects your productivity

Food greatly produces energy for your body to function properly. Getting the right nutrients gives you the necessary boost to conduct your daily tasks and improve your work performance.

Eating healthy can help improve your finances

Diet also impacts financial health. Staying healthy helps you focus and make well-informed decisions. It allows you to work longer if you want, making sure you still have a steady source of income despite your old age. Additionally, healthy eating can be cheaper if you know how to plan your meals properly.

What Is a Healthy Diet and How to Plan One?

A healthy diet refers to eating the most nutritious types of food. A balanced and healthy diet may vary per individual. Different factors, such as age, gender and lifestyle, should be considered. For instance, food prescription programs and medically-tailored meals are often prescribed to help those with certain health conditions improve their diet.

When creating a healthy diet plan, there are certain things to watch for. 

Below are a few of them.

Make sure you meet your nutritional needs

Nutritional needs depend on the life stage. Generally, infants around six months old or younger get nutrients from milk. Human milk (breast milk) is the best option, but adding iron-fortified formula during the first year may be an option if human milk is unavailable.

Infants can start having nutrient-dense complementary food at about six months. It’s also best to start introducing different foods from all food groups, especially those rich in iron and zinc.

From one year old through older adulthood, creating a healthy dietary pattern that helps ensure a healthy body weight and meet nutritional needs is essential. This also reduces the risk of developing a chronic disease.

Choose from each food group

A healthy diet plan is customized. That’s because each person has different needs, preferences, cultures and circumstances. One’s financial budget is also an important consideration. Make sure you choose different food items and beverages from each food group.

Be aware of portion size

  • Having nutritious food isn’t enough. You need to make sure you’re getting the right amount. This is especially important when having foods that aren’t nutrient-dense or aren’t high in vitamins and minerals.

    Generally, you must watch your intake of added sugars, saturated fat and sodium. Recommended limits are as follows:

    • Added sugars
      — Avoid these for children younger than two-years-old
      — Less than 10% of calories per day (two years old or older)
    • Saturated fat: Less than 10% of calories per day (two years old or older)
    • Sodium: Less than 2,300 milligrams per day (less for children below 14 years old)

Tips on Building a Healthier Plate

Having a healthy and balanced dietary plan offers many benefits. It boosts your immunity, which protects your body against various harmful factors. It also supports muscles, bones and brain development. Additionally, it can lower the risk of chronic diseases.

Creating a healthy plate can be overwhelming, but understanding what elements to focus on can help you get started. That said, the key is consistency. It’s important to make eating healthy a habit.

The table below shows what to consider when building a healthy eating plate.

Healthy eating table

Eating and Staying Healthy While Spending Less Money

Eating nutritious food matters for a person’s overall health and well-being. While spending less on groceries while staying healthy may seem impossible, especially with rising food costs, there are strategies to make this achievable. Various government programs and nonprofit organizations also help low-income individuals and families.

Here are some tips to help you eat well while saving.

Plan Your Recipes

Try to start every week planning your meals. Determine what ingredients you’ll need. Scan your refrigerator and pantry to see what you already have. If there are foods near expiry, consider planning meals around them.

If you’re unsure where to start, you can use the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate website. You can find resources and recipes to help create a healthy meal plan.


Try to come up with dishes you can freeze. Look for budget-friendly soup or casserole recipes online and create a large batch that can last you throughout the week. Freeze leftovers that you can eat again later. Consider looking for ways to use leftovers to create new recipes.

Do Grocery Shopping Properly

Once you already have a meal plan for the week, create a detailed list of all ingredients you’ll need. Bring the list when you go to the grocery store. This makes shopping easier and faster. You avoid forgetting essential ingredients. At the same time, it prevents you from buying unnecessary items on impulse.


If you value convenience, consider installing a grocery list app on your mobile phone. Some help you find deals and discounts, such as the GroceryPal App.

Choose Canned or Frozen Foods

Consider canned or frozen fruits and vegetables if you can’t find affordable fresh produce in your area. These are also great alternatives if you want healthy foods that last longer. Many times, they’re also cheaper. You can find frozen fruits and vegetables in resealable packaging, which makes storing them easier. If you want, you can also repack the products into smaller packaging so that you don’t have to defrost everything just to get a small portion.


When buying canned vegetables and fruits, try to look for those that come in water instead of syrup. Check the label. Some canned goods have added sugar or salt. Avoid these as much as possible. Frozen foods with added butter or sauce also tend to have added sugar, salt or even empty calories, which aren’t healthy.

Find Discounts or Use Coupons

Coupons are among the best ways to save money on grocery bills. Look for coupons based on the ingredients you have on your grocery list. You can start your search online. No matter how small the discount may seem, it can lead to significant savings when added.


Money-saving deals can be tempting. However, it’s important to be strategic when it comes to coupons. Sort them out and choose quality deals. Don’t be tempted by big discounts if they’re for unhealthy processed foods.

Take advantage of coupons for other home items, such as cleaning products. By saving on these, you can have a higher budget for healthy foods.

Consider Growing a Garden

Another cheap way of getting nutritious foods is to grow your produce. You can grow a garden even if you don’t have a spacious yard. Start with potted vegetables, herbs and fruits you can leave on your balcony or patio.

You can also check if there’s a community garden in your neighborhood that you can join. This will give you access to various fresh produce.


For some, growing a garden isn’t possible. If such is the case for you, it’s important to shop smart for produce. Generally, choosing what’s in season can save you money. It also ensures that the fruit or vegetable is fully ripe when harvested.

Cook at Home

Cooking at home will save you a lot of money in the long run. Eating out tends to cost more, especially for families. Aside from this, it’s harder to ensure that only quality and healthy ingredients are being used.

That said, it doesn’t mean you should never eat out. Just make sure you limit it.


Include the food you bring to work or school when creating meal plans. Packing your lunch and snacks gives you complete control over the type of food you eat. This helps when building a healthy eating habit.

Take Advantage of Sales

If possible, stock up on your favorite products or those you often use when they go on sale. That said, you have to ensure they’ll last for a while. Don’t buy things in bulk if they’re about to expire.

Depending on the product, choosing store brands or generic options can save you a significant amount. For instance, canned and frozen fruits or vegetables usually have cheaper store-brand versions.


If you’re shopping for the family, go for larger portions. Products in smaller packaging tend to cost more when added up than those sold in bulk.

To determine the price per unit of a large-sized item, divide the price by the weight stated on the package. Then, compare that to the cost of the individually packed option.

How to Store and Keep Healthy Foods Fresh for Longer

Saving on your grocery bills doesn’t end when you check out your items. You also have to ensure you maximize the foods you have bought. Knowing how to store and keep your produce fresh for longer reduces your waste and will also help you save more money in the long run.

Here are some steps you can take.

Always check best before dates

Best before dates are there to give you an idea of how long a product will stay in its best condition. Some items only have use-by dates. This refers to the date the manufacturers think the food is in prime.

Know what items to wash and when

It’s best to wash off fruits and vegetables before eating them. This is to prevent contracting illnesses due to bacteria.

For green leafy vegetables, it’s best to soak them in cold water for about five minutes. Herbs are best stored like a bouquet. Put them in the refrigerator with a. damp paper towel.

Freeze what you can

For meat and vegetables, consider cooking them for storage. You can do this by putting them in the microwave. Then, put them in the freezer. This will make them last longer. You can simply defrost them when you need to use them.

Learn the right way of storing

The right way of storing depends on the type of food. For instance, berries should be rinsed in vinegar, spread on a paper towel to dry and put in the refrigerator. Broccoli should be wrapped in foil to make it last up to four weeks. Bananas should be stored away from other produce. Lettuce must be kept with a kitchen towel.

Turn old produce into stock

Once your vegetables and herbs start turning, it’s best to freeze them in a plastic bag. Then, when you have the time, use them to create a vegetable stock. That said, avoid using starchy vegetables.

Food as Medicine: Do Health Insurance Plans Cover Nutritious Meals?

Health insurance protects you from substantial medical expenses. But staying healthy can prevent you from needing expensive medical attention in the first place. Additionally, health insurance plans cover medically tailored, nutritious meals and food prescriptions. Among these are Medicare, Medicaid, Food is Medicine Coalition and Humana.

Consider these options and weigh the pros and cons to determine the best health insurance.


Medicare consists of three parts. Each has different coverage. Part A refers to hospital insurance, Part B is for medical insurance and Part D is for prescription drug coverage. Medicare Part B offers nutrition therapy services coverage.


Medicare is a government program that caters to people aged 65 or older. Younger individuals with disabilities may also qualify.

Eligible individuals can submit a completed application for enrollment in Medicare Part B. You can also check with your local Social Security office.


Medicaid is both a federal and a state program. It provides health insurance coverage to qualified individuals under the age of 65.

Coverages vary per state. Among the optional benefits include nutritional coverage. Some may also offer prevention programs for diet-related illnesses. Contact your local Social Security office to determine if you’re eligible to receive diet-related coverage.


Medicaid provides health insurance to low-income individuals and families. Children, pregnant women, elderly adults, people with disabilities and individuals who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may also qualify. That said, specific eligibility requirements may vary depending on the state.

Food is Medicine Coalition

The Food is Medicine Coalition is a nonprofit that focuses on advancing evidence-based medical and nutrition intervention. It advocates for public policy focusing on access to food and nutrition services for individuals with chronic and critical illnesses. It’s composed of different nonprofits and medically tailored and nutrition services providers across the country.


Food is Medicine Coalition is composed of different nonprofits and medically tailored and nutrition service providers across the country. Among them are God’s Love We DeliverProject Angel Heart and Project Open Hand.

Generally, programs are for people with chronic or severe diseases. Specific organizations may have different eligibility requirements, so it’s best to contact the nonprofit directly.

Essential Tips to Reduce Your Health Insurance Costs

Inflation can be felt in various aspects and industries, including the health insurance industry. That’s why health insurance premiums continue rising. This additional expense can prevent you from accessing healthy meals. That said, there are ways to get affordable health insurance.

Get employer-sponsored coverage

Employers have different benefits packages for their employees. Ask your company if you’re qualified to get health insurance. Typically, it’s a cheaper option compared to private individual health insurance. You may also add your eligible family members as dependents.

Review government programs

Check if you’re eligible for Medicaid or Medicare. These are programs catering to low-income individuals and families. They tend to offer the cheapest health plans.

Check for discounts

Depending on the health insurance provider, you may qualify to receive significant discounts. Ask your insurance agent or visit the company’s website.

Shop around

The best way to find the cheapest insurance policy is to shop around and compare prices. You can start your search in the Health Insurance Marketplace. You can also ask for personalized quotes from private insurance companies. MoneyGeek has a health insurance comparison tool you can use to get an idea of how much your policy will cost.

What You Can Do if You Need Help With Healthy Meals

Many often state they would eat better if nutritious foods were more accessible and affordable. However, there are many community food resources available to all. Find a variety of services below that help provide healthy food for low-income families, seniors, those on fixed incomes, and all community members.

Food resources chart

Food sources

Expert Insight on Staying Healthy While Saving

Trista Best, Registered Dietitian, Environmental Health Specialist, Adjunct Professor, and Consultant with Balance One Supplements

What financial management or money-saving tips can you share with individuals or families struggling to eat healthy due to food price inflation?
  • When shopping on a tight budget, purchasing enough groceries for at least two weeks is best. This is effective for saving money because rather than having to make several trips to the grocery store for individual meals, you are more apt to plan out your meals and snacks and only buy what is needed.
  • Meal planning is vital to saving money at the grocery store. To make it more cost-effective, you can list all the groceries you’ll need for two weeks based on your meals and inventory your pantry for what you already have. That way, you are not buying items that you already have.
  • Buying for multiple weeks at once can be difficult if you purchase many perishable items like fruit and vegetables. In this case, it’s important to remember that frozen and canned fruit and vegetables are acceptable, less expensive than fresh, and last longer. They are also often just as nutrient-dense as fresh ones because they are harvested and processed (frozen or canned) at their peak.
  • Canned (or dry) beans of every variety pack a ton of nutrients and calories into any meal, which is helpful when you are working to reduce your grocery budget. The fiber content of beans will keep you full and satisfied long after a meal and is beneficial for feeding the gut’s good bacteria, binding and flushing out toxins and waste from your body, and even helping to reduce cholesterol and body weight. Along with fiber, beans are rich in protein, a macronutrient that can often be found lacking in the diet of those seeking to save money at the grocery store.
  • Rice (preferably brown) is inexpensive and filling; combined with beans, it makes a complete protein. Protein consists of amino acids. There are 20 amino acids, nine essential, meaning they must be obtained through the diet. Animal protein sources naturally contain all 20 amino acids and are naturally complete proteins, but many plant-based proteins are not. Taking in all essential amino acids is necessary for a healthy life and combining rice and beans provides the right combination of amino acids to achieve this.

There are various programs and projects available to low-income individuals and families. What alternative resources are available to those who don’t qualify for such programs but struggle with healthy eating due to food price inflation?

Many food pantries operated by nonprofit organizations provide food for families without verifying income. I recommend contacting local agencies for resources like this in your community. Government programs that offer low-income families food and other items will often have lists of other resources available. Community gardens are another great way to eat a healthy diet while saving money. Consider organizing a community garden in your neighborhood.

Ari Shaffer, Certified Professional Career Coach, Parenting Consultant and Former Therapist

What financial management or money-saving tips can you share with individuals or families struggling to eat healthy due to food price inflation?

The first best tip is to work on cooking skills together. It’s a wonderful skill for kids to acquire and the best way to save money and stay healthy. Also, kids are more likely to eat something they help make. If you’re a beginner, watch some online cooking videos and start simple. Often, one sit-down meal at a restaurant could cover the cost of groceries for a week.

Consider a few vegetarian days or using meat as more of a side dish than the main event. A chicken can barely feed a family of four if it’s the main course, but in a soup, salad, casserole, or ingredient in another dish, it can be stretched over two meals.

Watching food waste is important as well. Leftovers can be frozen for later use. If you routinely throw away fresh fruits and vegetables, look into frozen or canned. If you have space for a compost pile, start one to garden the following year. That’s another great skill for kids; it helps the environment and provides food and exercise.

Changing what you buy makes a huge difference as well. Maybe you switch from buying chips to making popcorn. Perhaps a generic brand is just as tasty but saves you several dollars. Across an entire shopping trip, that adds up.

Making your own invariably saves money, whether it’s hummus, dried fruit, nut milk or sandwiches.

Coupons can be terrific for staples like produce, but often they’re for more expensive and less healthy name-brand items. Buy one/get one isn’t a deal when you can make your own for 1/10th of the price.

What resources and tools are best for people who want to stay healthy while saving on rising food costs?

Farmer’s markets are a great place to save money — visit at the end of the day and look for deals. Sellers don’t want to haul home a bunch of produce, so they mark things down during the last hour. Go to your online neighborhood pages. People will often list that they have a glut of tomatoes, zucchini or other produce.

If those aren’t options in your neighborhood, grocers will often have specials on fruits and vegetables that need to be eaten in the next few days or that aren’t perfect.

Soups are an ideal healthy meal, especially served with fresh, whole grain bread. And they’re inexpensive and easy to make. Adding a fat to them helps your family feel full. Depending on what you like (and what works with the soup), olive oil, butter or coconut milk can be a good addition.

If you’re serious about saving money and have the time, canning or freezing fresh produce you grow yourself is the ultimate money saver, but it’s not for everyone.

You might also consider looking into your local food bank if you’re struggling. They exist to help people during times like these. There’s a tremendous need right now, so call around first to see who can help.

Alicia Connor, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Chef and Author

What financial management or money-saving tips can you share with individuals or families struggling to eat healthy due to food price inflation?

When looking to eat healthily and save money during these times when food cost inflation is occurring, choose hearty ingredients that are satisfying. Some ideas include huevos rancheros, eggs with salsa, black beans and veggies like a simple cabbage slaw with shredded carrot and apple cider vinegar and olive oil dressing.

Using similar ingredients to make different meals could also be cost-effective. For example, making black bean soup or stew with or without animal protein. Beans and lentils are inexpensive plant-based proteins that are satisfying.

Always make sure to freeze leftovers so as not to waste food. Look for items on sale. Focus on eating for nutrition. Making sure to have protein and hearty carbohydrates like beans, lentils, and quinoa will help stretch dishes with animal protein so you will get more servings.

Check out eatFresh and Lentils for simple recipes. You can also visit my channel Quick & Delish by Alicia Connor.

There are various programs and projects available to low-income individuals and families. What alternative resources are available to those who don’t qualify for such programs but struggle with healthy eating due to food price inflation?

Meals on Wheels delivers meals to people who are healing from injury or surgery.

Sometimes, the services available to low-income folks may be available to more people. It can’t hurt to contact local organizations like The Lion’s Club, a national organization that helps people rise from where they are with various resources.

Churches and community centers may have a food bank or low-cost or free meals.

Communicating with friends and family and coming together to shop and make meals could help save time, money, and resources during these challenging times.

This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by

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Beat back food costs by making your produce last longer

Beat back food costs by making your produce last longer

It’s estimated that the average household wastes more than 30% of the food it obtains, a staggering statistic with both financial and environmental consequences. One hundred and forty million acres of land are needed to produce this lost or wasted food each year, which is about the size of New York and California combined.

Storing foods properly to avoid spoilage can eliminate some of this waste, especially when paired with better shopping and meal-planning habits.

Use this guide to keep common household fruits and vegetables fresh for longer and keep food out of the compost bin.

Related: Easy & delicious ways to use up your summer zucchini bounty

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There are three main things to consider when storing fresh fruits and vegetables: ethylene, airflow and temperature.

Ethylene gas is naturally released by some fruits and quickens the ripening (and decay) of nearby produce. Knowing the ethylene production and sensitivity of fresh fruits and vegetables is essential to running a waste-free kitchen, as is knowing the airflow-needs of produce.

It’s also important to understand the temperature regions of your fridge. Generally, top shelves and doors are warmer, while lower areas and the back of the fridge are cooler. Drawers – like the crisper – are cool and retain humidity, and some even have a piece that can be adjusted to let moisture out or trap it in. Label these sections to more consciously store produce and prevent spoilage

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To prevent apples from getting mealy, store them in the refrigerator. Keep other produce away from this high-ethylene-producing fruit to protect them from premature decay or stow all the apples in a bag. If you’re really dedicated, wrap each apple in reusable beeswax paper to prevent one rotting fruit from spoiling the bunch.

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These fruits are notoriously finicky and require a well-trained hand to determine ripeness by the touch.

Store avocados in a cool area of the kitchen and, if you’re not quite ready to use them when they’ve fully ripened, transfer to the refrigerator. Refrain, however, from putting the fruit in the fridge too early; the cold can halt the ripening process, leaving you with a hard avocado that ends up in the compost.

Preventing cut avocados from browning will also cut down on food waste in the kitchen. Store halved avocados in a container with an onion, or rub the exposed flesh with lemon juice, which prevents the fruit from oxidizing and turning brown

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Bananas release high levels of ethylene gas, so it’s best to store them alone on the counter, preferably hanging from a banana hook where they aren’t putting pressure on one another. Once they’re ripe, bananas can be moved to the fridge for a couple of days until you’re ready to eat them, but don’t move the fruit before they’re ripe. Buying a bunch that’s still a little green is a good way to ensure that you’re not stuck with a bunch of overripe fruit too quickly.

To prevent bell peppers from getting wrinkly and soft, keep them in the fridge, where they’ll last 1-2 weeks if separated from ethylene-gas-producing fruits.

 Peppers go bad quickly when too moist, so be sure to dry them off before storing, and don’t wash until you’re ready to use them.

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Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries should be refrigerated in a sealed container with a little airflow, lined with towels to prevent buildup of moisture. Keep the lid slightly ajar or use a container with holes in it.

Berries will spoil quickly when moist, so don’t wash before storing, although strawberries will last longer if rinsed in a vinegar-water solution and thoroughly dried before chilling. Keep strawberry caps on, too, until it’s time to eat the fruit. 

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This winter vegetable can handle cold temperatures; keep whole heads of broccoli in the cool crisper drawer, wrapped in a damp towel to stay fresh. To prevent mold, never leave the florets in a reusable silicone bag or wash them before storing. Even when stored properly, broccoli generally doesn’t keep very long, so be sure to use within a few days of purchasing.


Keep cut carrots and celery submerged in a jar of water, where they will last for two weeks and a month respectively.

Whole carrots are pretty hardy and can last in the fridge on their own for a while; celery, however, likes to be wrapped in aluminum foil and stored in the refrigerator, but keeping it in plastic wrap will accelerate the process of decay.

Although similar in appearance to broccoli, cauliflower doesn’t like much moisture and needs some air circulation to stay fresh. Keep the vegetable in a perforated bag with the head-side up so moisture doesn’t accumulate and cause rotting. Refraining from washing cauliflower before storing will also help prevent decay.

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There are different theories about storing citrus: Some recommend more moisture, while others warn against it.

Generally, it’s advised to keep lemons, limes, oranges, tangerines, grapefruits and other citrus fruits at room temperature until they hit peak ripeness (about a week), at which point they should be put in the fridge. 

Alternatively, place them in the fridge right after purchasing until you’re ready to eat them, then move to the countertop. Most citruses aren’t ethylene-sensitive and can be stored with ethylene-producing things; lemons and limes, however, are sensitive, and should separated.

Evidence shows that citrus does like moisture, unlike many fruits. Some say that submerging lemons in water in the refrigerator will keep them fresh for weeks, as will storing them in a reusable silicone bag to keep humidity in. If you do keep citruses out of the refrigerator, take care not to pile the fruits on top of each other, which might lead to mold growth. 

Related: The strange-but-true story about how Hawaiian pizza was invented


The trick to storing corn is to keep it from drying out. Don’t expose the kernels, and don’t shuck it until you’re ready to eat it. Store the ears still in their husks in a reusable silicone bag in the crisper drawer until then. 

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The flavor of cucumbers is impacted by cold temperatures and are thus best left on the counter. If you do want to extend their life by refrigerating, wrap them in a towel to keep dry and put in a reusable, cloth grocery bag for ventilation. Don’t wash the cucumbers before storing and keep them toward the front of the fridge on a higher shelf to keep them from getting too cold.

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Keep eggplants at room-temperature (not the refrigerator!) to maintain flavor and texture, although you’ll need to eat them within a few days. Ideally, choose a dark, dry, cool place with good circulation, but if you do leave eggplants on the counter, just keep them away from ethylene producers like bananas and tomatoes.

If you need the vegetable to last longer, wrap it in a towel, place in a hard-sided container to prevent bruising, and store in a fridge drawer. The flavor and texture of the nightshade, however, might be affected.

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While more convenient for snacking, don’t rinse grapes before cooling in the fridge; keep them dry and they’ll last up to a week. Grapes get wrinkly when left out, but they’ll thrive in a cold part of the fridge, like the back of the crisper drawer with its high humidity. Store in a bowl, colander or container with holes to facilitate proper airflow. 

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Green onions are not only easy to store, but easy to regrow at home.

Place the onions with the root-side down in a jar of water and place on the windowsill, where they will continue growing. Chop off the green tops for cooking and place the bulbs back in the jar to get a second growth of greenery. The onions can also be stored this way in the fridge with their tops covered or laid flat with the roots wrapped in a damp towel. 

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Not all herbs are created equal in storage; there are different methods for keeping soft- and hard-stemmed herbs fresh in the fridge.

For soft-stemmed herbs like mint, basil, parsley, dill, tarragon and cilantro, place the stems in a jar with a few inches of water and put in the fridge. Rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme, chives and other hard-stemmed herbs should be wrapped in a damp towel and stored in a sealed container in the crisper drawer. 

Alternatively, if you find yourself with more herbs than you’ll be able to use before they begin to wilt, wash and dry the leaves, mix with olive oil, and store in the freezer in an ice cube tray. Pop out a cube and toss into a hot pan before sautéing vegetables or making a pasta sauce. 


There are a few competing theories about how to best store kale in the fridge, but generally, it’s recommended to wrap leaves in a towel to catch excess moisture and place the whole bunch in a reusable silicone bag. If you want to prep the leaves for use beforehand, remove the stems, wash, dry and place in the bag with a towel. Some chefs advocate for wrapping kale in a damp towel to keep the leaves crisp, but they’ll need to be used sooner.

Always store melons out of the fridge when they’re whole and uncut; once sliced, cover or place in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

With their high-water content, mushrooms have a tendency to get slimy when exposed to too much moisture. Keep them in a paper bag in the refrigerator, adding a towel to catch some extra moisture if you won’t get to them for a few days, although it’s best to eat most mushrooms within a week to 10 days.

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Onions and garlic can be stored together but should be kept away from moisture in a low-humidity environment. Both like good air circulation, so a basket or mesh or paper bag is preferable for storage. Onions especially like a cool, dark place, like a closet or basement storage room, where they can last for months. Garlic can be left on a kitchen counter in a breathable container, but shouldn’t be kept in the fridge, where it’ll lose some of its flavor.

Once cut, store onions in the fridge wrapped in beeswax wrap


Like nectarines and apricots, peaches shouldn’t be kept in the fridge, which sucks their moisture, leaving you with a less-satisfying fruit. Keep them in a cool area of the kitchen, making sure they’re not stacked up on one another, which will lead to bruising. 


Pears are very similar to avocados and shouldn’t be put in the refrigerator until fully ripened, or they’ll stay hard. You can even use the same methods for preventing the oxidation of cut pears by rubbing a bit of lemon juice on the exposed areas. 


While potatoes should be stored similarly to onions, keep these two vegetables away from each other, for the gases emitted by onions will cause sprouting in the potatoes. Keep potatoes and yams in a dark, cool place, like a root (or wine) cellar, cabinet, closet or drawer; the cold temperatures of a fridge will convert some of the potato’s starches to sugars, causing them to brown sooner and burn faster when fried. Leaving the potatoes in plastic bags also promotes spoilage, so keep them in a basket or other open container.

Wrap salad greens in a light, reusable dish towel or napkin to soak up water and keep leaves from getting soggy. To prevent excess moisture, don’t wash the greens until you’re ready to use them. If a whole head of lettuce is looking a little wilted, chop a bit off of the bottom and place in a shallow bowl of water to revive it. Alternatively, remove all of the leaves from the head, dry them and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

To revive limp greens, submerge them in a bowl of very cold water before eating. 


Cherries and plums need to be kept as cold as possible. Store near the back of the refrigerator on a low shelf or in the crisper drawer. 

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Summer squashes like zucchini are similar to cucumbers but prefer the fridge to the countertop. These squashes are best kept in a reusable plastic bag in the crisper drawer but try not to chill the vegetables at temperatures any lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit, which might cause chilling injuries.

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Whatever you do, keep tomatoes out of the refrigerator

Store fresh tomatoes upside down in open, flat container at room temperature and out of direct sunlight. If they’re very ripe, move the fruit to the refrigerator until ready to use. The same method applies to grape and cherry tomatoes, which should be kept in bowl on the counter.

Tomatoes give off ethylene gas, so keep them away from other fruits and vegetables. 

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Carrots, parsnips, beets, turnips, ginger and other roots and tubers are pretty easy to store. They don’t produce much ethylene and can be kept in the crisper drawer next to other vegetables. If they have greens (like carrots), chop those off before storing, as they pull moisture from the vegetable.

Some, like radishes, will regain their crunch if soaked in ice water before eating.

Winter squashes – butternut, acorn, kabocha, delicata, spaghetti, hubbard, etc. – should be kept out of the refrigerator and can last on the countertop for weeks or months. If you need only part of the squash for a recipe, peel and chop the squash and store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

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Featured Image Credit: Elena Perova/iStock.