Sneak Preview: Magazine Article on Shopping on a Budget

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My newest article for Kidz Ink (Peterborough Kids, Lakeridge Kids, Northumberland Kids) focuses on creative solutions to rising food prices.

I’ll be sure to post a link once it hits the news stands and websites, but in the meantime, a teaser to whet your appetite:

Waste not, want not

Melanie Cushti is a single mom with two very active teenagers to feed on a limited budget. Both her 14-year old daughter, Aurynn, and her 16-year old son, Phoenix, are athletic and take part in multiple sports. They burn a lot of calories and seem to be eating constantly. Keeping them fed can be challenge.

“I would say the biggest thing for us is making sure they are getting food that is both healthy and fun,” says Cushti. “The most expensive food is the food that you throw out. Your food dollar goes nowhere if it ends up in the garbage.”

Cushti lets her kids take a very active role in both menu planning and shopping. She makes sure that they are choosing healthy foods that they are certain to eat.

“I give them a budget to buy the fruits and vegetables that they want to have,” she explains. “There is no sense in buying produce that they don’t want. I also have them take part in both shopping and cooking so that the meals are ones that they will eat. They’ve learned about the realities of food prices and they’ve learned that if they want the food that they like, they have to be a part of making sure it gets to the table.”

The result? “We rarely throw anything out,” reports Cushti. “And, trust me, that goes a long way to reducing our costs.”
Planning makes sense

Annie Scherz and Rodney Fuentes are at the other end of the spectrum. Their daughter, Lucia, is only four, and their son, Mateo, is just under a year old. But just because the kids are smaller doesn’t mean that their parents have to be any less budget-conscious.

“For us, it is all about planning,” says Scherz. “We make full menus at the beginning of the week and stick firmly to the meals on it. We don’t buy extra food throughout the week. We try to keep our grocery budget limited to our once-a-week shop. You’d be surprised how much it adds up when you start buying extras throughout the week.”

Annie and Rodney also carefully plan where they are going to purchase food before they go out. “Store flyers will help you make sure you are getting the best bargains and help you find on-sale items,” she says. “Even if you don’t get a newspaper, most supermarkets have their flyers online.”

Another trick is to price your items by weight and volume. Take notes as you browse flyers and shop in person and you’ll eventually get a good idea of where different grocery products are going to be least expensive. You may have to make a couple of stops while shopping, but the savings will start to show.