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Feeding your family on a budget

By Sarah Ransom

With government shutdowns there are financial repercussions for people across the states. For some, they have not received a pay check and others have received all their SNAP benefits early. When it comes down to the basics though, learning to spend your food budget wisely is always a good idea. Here are some suggested tips for stretching your food budget during tight times.
Use low-cost meal planning. Feeding your family at home can help you save a lot of money. The UT/TSU Extension office has several recipes that allow you to feed your family for less than $2 per person. Some additional tips for low-cost meal planning include checking your pantry, fridge and freezer to see what foods you already have on hand. Seeing what you have, then make your grocery list to make full meals. Mix and match is a great way to save extra funds. Making new meals from leftovers, canned or frozen foods can help stretch your budget and keep people eating healthier options. Speaking of leftovers, when you have something leftover, freeze it and save it for a later meal. This is a great way to have lunches for family members without having to go out to eat. Grabbing fast food can be convenient, but is not always easiest on the budget.
Check into local
resources.
The Neighborhood Service Center on Highway 421 has a wide variety of information on local food
banks, pantries and services to help families get
through times of hardships. If you can’t get by to talk to them, check out www.gojoco.org for a list of food resources that may be able to help. The UT/TSU Extension Johnson County Facebook page will be sharing helpful tips throughout the next months as well.
Lastly, if you do receive SNAP benefits, here are some additional tips from the TN Department of Human Services to help stretch your dollars just a little bit further. If you have specific questions, please reach out to your local DHS office for further information. Budget your SNAP dollars for the entire month, plan to have enough for each week. Be sure you are only shopping once a week, this helps cut down on impulse buying. Buying larger amounts of food when it is less expensive can be a way to help stretch dollars. Chicken and beef freezes well, so if they are running a sale, and you have room, purchase a little extra that will come in handy later in the month when funds are running short. Fit special “treat” foods into your budget as they fit. Making smaller purchases throughout the month is better than spending it all at once. Don’t shop hungry – shopping hungry increases the amount you spend on groceries. Shopping off a list helps keep your spending on target. Be sure to
check and use your other benefits (such as WIC). Purchasing the foods they cover, helps stretch the SNAP benefits.
Even on a tight budget, you can still eat healthy and enjoy good food. Planning out your spending helps you keep your family eating well and saving money. If you would like to get more information on low-cost recipes, feel free to call the Extension office at (423)-727-8161 or come to visit us. We are located at 212 College Street Mountain City, TN.
Sources: “Feed a Family of 4 for under $5”, UT TNCEP Handout and TN Department of Human Services.