Strategies for Stretching the Food Dollar

By Patrice Powers-Barker, OSU Extension, Lucas County
The Truth Contributor

Many are aware of the increase in food costs. Predictions of food price increases for all food (at home and away from home) for 2022 indicate that prices are on path to increase between 8.5 and 9.5 percent.

For this year, food-away-from-home prices are predicted to increase between 6.5 and 7.5 percent, and food-at-home prices are predicted to increase between 10.0 and 11.0 percent. The predictions for 2023 are lower but still an increase.

In 2023, food-at-home prices are predicted to increase between 2.0 and 3.0 percent, and food-away-from-home prices are predicted to increase between 3.0 and 4.0 percent. (Consumer Price Index)

Food consumers (that’s all of us) are encouraged to use this information and make plans to continue to eat healthy while stretching the food dollar. Saving money on food is more than comparing prices at the grocery store. We are all encouraged to continue to eat healthy amounts of foods from all five food groups to get the nutrients that our bodies need.  None of these recommendations are brand new but it might be time to review your food spending habits to see if they need any updates.

There are things that can be done at home to minimize food waste and to plan the best use of the food you will be buying. At home planning can include looking in your cupboards, freezer and refrigerator before writing the grocery shopping list. Make plans to use the food you have.

One recommendation is to grow and can your own food. To be clear, home food preservation can be a great way to save fresh food from right now for later in the year, but it might not always be the most economical way. For those who already have the right equipment and access to large amounts of food (such as fresh produce from the garden), it is often a tasty and practical way to have some extra garden produce later in the year.

If you would like to learn more about home food preservation and what might work best for you, OSU Extension, Lucas County is offering a free class on August 8, 2022. This class, “Basic Home Food Preservation: Deciding What’s Best for You” will be offered two times that day (same presentation), once from 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. and again from 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.. It will take place at the Toledo Botanical Garden Metropark, 5403 Elmer Drive, Toledo, OH, 43615. There is no registration or fee to attend.

Ohio State University Extension Service offers some useful tips. In general, locally-grown produce is less expensive than food that has to be shipped in from out of state or out of country. Another advantage is food that doesn‘t have to travel long distances may retain quality longer.

Is the cost of convenience foods worth it? Often, pre-seasoned frozen vegetables, snack-sized packs and bakery sweets save some time but cost much more money than if you were to make them and season them yourself at home.

Left-overs can make life easier. Making a large enough meal that can be eaten one day and then divided up for another day like lunch or an additional dinner can make the cost of buying more ingredients a savings. One example is to use tortillas and fill them up with leftover foods from a previous meal.

Shop the grocery store infrequently. The less time you spend in the store, the fewer temptations. Adopt the mantra “get in and get out.” In addition, pay attention to the register and check your receipts. Scanners make life more convenient, but they aren’t perfect.

In addition to the Home Food Preservation class, OSU Extension is offering a class for anyone in our community who works with children. PAX Tools is intended for any caring adult who interacts with children, such as parents, caregivers, professionals and volunteers. PAX Tools is a collection of strategies or “tips” to improve cooperation and self-regulation with youth. PAX Tools helps to create a nurturing environment that ultimately helps kids thrive!

The FREE upcoming workshop is Wednesday, August 31, 2022 from 6:00 – 8:00pm at Sanger Branch Library, 3030 W. Central Avenue, Toledo, OH. The first 25 to register and attend will receive a FREE Toolkit. (even if you are not the first 25, you are welcome to attend and you will leave the session with all the information needed to create your own toolkit). RSVP online at   If you have any questions, please email Patrice or call 419-574-0983.