Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Offers Tips for Healthful Eating as Consumer Food Spending Increases
CHICAGO – Americans are struggling to cope with high costs for everything from housing and utilities to gasoline and travel. Food prices have been affected as well, and according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, food spending in the United States in 2022 was the highest level recorded, even after adjusting for inflation.
Overall spending on food has increased 70% between 1997 to 2022, and the cost of eating away from home continues to outpace the cost of eating at home. The Economic Research Service expects grocery prices to increase 5% in 2023, while the cost of dining out is predicted to increase 7%. Food prices are not expected to decline in 2024.
“Nutritious food does not have to be expensive. You can spend less and enjoy more with a little preparation,” says registered dietitian nutritionist Vanessa King, an Academy Spokesperson in Oahu, Hawaii. “Make a shopping list before you go to the grocery store and review the menu to know what your meal will cost before selecting a restaurant.”
King provides practical, real-world tips for eating healthful foods at home or on the go:
Healthful Strategies for Eating at Home
- Plan ahead: Create a weekly menu by purchasing what’s on sale that week. Choose your most expensive item first, typically your meat or entree, and match with complementary sides from different food groups.
- Stretch foods: Add volume by adding mushrooms or beans to your meat dishes or vegetables to your eggs. Choose fruit and vegetable combinations that mix higher and lower-priced items.
- Stock staples: Look for sales and stock up on your family’s favorite food items. Shop for shelf-stable items such as rice, pasta, sauces and marinades as well as dry fruits and dried herbs. Purchase frozen and canned fruits, vegetables, meats and seafood for future use.
- Avoid wasting food: Place foods with an earlier “Use By” date in the front of your refrigerator to be eaten first. Repurpose your leftovers into new dishes or freeze your leftovers to eat later to avoid wasting food.
- Eat local: Purchase fruits and vegetables in-season from a local farmer. These items are usually less expensive due to abundance and less transportation expense.
Healthful Strategies for Eating Away from Home
Once you factor in labor and overhead, dining out is usually more expensive than preparing food at home. However, the reality is that Americans are as busy as ever. In addition, many households may not have convenient access to a grocery store or the means for food deliveries. King offers the following tips:
- Simple meals: Check out your local sandwich shop, diner or grocery store’s deli for family-friendly meals that won’t break the bank. Consider ordering healthful side dishes, such as salads, fruits and vegetables, that can be shared.
- Healthful eating options: Select vinegar and oil-based dressings for salads. Choose menu items that are baked, grilled or broiled instead of fried. Consider sharing your entree. Check the menu for sodium levels, saturated fat content, added sugars and more. Order water as your drink.
- Vegetarian meals: Consider less-expensive vegetarian menu options.
Visit eatright.org for more healthful eating tips on a budget. To find a registered dietitian nutritionist near you, visit the Academy’s Find a Nutrition Expert directory.
Representing more than 112,000 credentialed nutrition and dietetics practitioners, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy at www.eatright.org.
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