(ARA) – Worried about your grocery tab? Rising food prices are a significant cause of concern for 73 percent of consumers, according to a recent USA Today/Gallup poll. For almost half of them, those prices have caused a hardship.
Tightening the food budget needn’t mean sacrificing flavor or health, however. In fact, by stocking up on nutritious staples and an array of seasonings, it’s possible to become more frugal while enhancing your family’s meals. Some suggestions:
* Season those staples.
Not only are basic, natural foods — like whole grains and beans — inexpensive, they’re versatile. Take rice, for example: Flavor with basil, garlic and ginger and serve as a bed for in-season veggies, or sprinkle with curry powder for an instant stir-fry. Use it as the basis of a casserole, seasoned liberally with marjoram or gently with cayenne. Toss in a little rice — along with a pinch of cumin — to add body to your cup of soup or stew. Or stir up some aromatic rice pudding, flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. Treat other grains, beans and even seasonal produce, similarly — and make the most of your staples by spicing each dish distinctively.
Of course, you can also use spices to enhance your standard fare, turning yet another omelet or whole-grain pasta dish into something special. Ready-to-add seasoning blends of spices offer an easy route to give the meal some pizzazz.
* Buy in bulk.
Buying food items in quantity allows you to purchase at the very best prices. Buy exactly the amount you want of each bulk item at your natural food store, or, for convenience, shop online. Frontier Natural Products Co-op’s Web site, www.frontiercoop.com offers a wide array of bulk items, including herbs and spices; baking ingredients like cocoa, milk powder, baking soda, baking powder and active dry yeast; and other cooking ingredients like tapioca, grains, teas and dried vegetables.
* Rely on local, seasonal produce.
Growing your own is ideal, or you may want to join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, which will enable you to harvest fresh produce while supporting your local farmer. And of course you’ll want to schedule a regular trip to the farmer’s market to pick up what’s in season — to serve fresh or to put up for later months. Shopping for seasonal produce will provide the freshest and most economical buys at your local food store.
* Look for more frugal substitutions.
Replacing soda and other expensive drinks with homemade iced tea, for example, can provide savings as well as increased nourishment. Vary the tea — green, herbal, black — as well as the sweetener, if desired. And be sure to try your hand at developing your own custom blends; try a variety of teas, or mix tea with lemonade or juice.
Enjoy the taste and aroma of this delicious, economical tea:
Spiced Green Apple Tea
1 quart apple juice
1 quart green tea
1 cup Frontier Cider Mate
Combine juice and Frontier Cider Mate in a pot. Bring just to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add green tea and strain.
For more cost-saving ideas, visit www.frontiercoop.com/eatwellforless.
Courtesy of ARAcontent
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