The price of everything is high right now and that includes food. Here are some tips to help you stick to your budget, but still eat well.

— Stick with store-brand products for basics. Think oats, milk, milk substitutes, eggs, plain yogurt, canned goods, simple condiments, baking ingredients, etc. Not only are these usually cheaper, but there may also be store loyalty-program discounts as well.

— For foods that won’t go bad quickly, buy in bulk. If you have the storage space, opt for the larger package, like a giant bag of store-brand oats. If a common pantry or freezer item is on sale, consider buying extra. And if there are specialty foods you order online regularly, order a bunch at once to save on shipping.

— Hit the bulk foods section for nuts and grains. Tubs of loose nuts, dispensers full of dry grains, etc. — can be your friend. Check prices before you start filling your bag, and weigh as you go. Skip the prepackaged pouches, and divvy nuts into snack-sized containers or baggies at home.

— Consider scaling back on meat. Let’s face it, meat can be pricey. If you’re looking for tricks to trim your grocery bill, try skipping meat for a day or two a week. Meatless Monday, anyone?

— If you have the freezer space it can worth it to buy meat products from a local farmer. Buy a half a cow or a pig. You will get various cuts of meat and not need to worry about adding it to your grocery list for months. Cornell Cooperative Extension’s research has found that selling meat directly to consumers by the whole, half, or quarter animal is more profitable for the farmer and more affordable for consumers. When purchased in bulk, local meat prices are competitive with meat sold in grocery stores. Check out to find a local producer.

— Never forget: Eat before you go to the grocery store. Shopping hungry is a recipe for coming home with a lot of items you didn’t really need. Or skip the temptation and preorder your groceries for pickup. Many stores offer this as a free service. It will prevent those impulse buys and snacks in the checkout isle.

— Choose raw frozen chicken breasts. Instead of buying precooked chicken for convenience, buy it raw and frozen. You can pop the frozen chicken straight in the Instant Pot.

— Freeze leftovers before they go bad. If you have food you know you’re not going to get to, get ahead of it and stick it in the freezer for later use. Surprisingly, more things than you think can be frozen.

— Assess your produce needs. How many fresh fruits and veggies does your family realistically go through weekly? Cut down on what ends up in the trash. It takes a little extra attention and planning, but it’s totally worth it.

— Shop seasonally. Seasonal produce is in higher supply. Stores want to sell it faster, so they’ll often price it to move. Better yet, shop seasonally and locally at roadside stands and farmers markets.

— Use delicate produce that goes bad quicker early in the week. Berries, we’re looking at you. Also: spinach, cucumbers, and tomatoes.

— Buy salad greens by the head vs. bagged versions. Bonus: Your leafy greens will last longer when you chop them at home, especially when stored properly. Nobody likes sad brown lettuce.

— Sign up for the loyalty programs where you shop. Most grocers have them, and the savings REALLY do add up.

Happy and healthy shopping and eating – for both your budget and your belly.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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