There's good news just below the surface of the latest reports on food prices: the healthiest food costs less now. See the tips below to go on an anti-inflation diet to get your body and your budget healthy. Although food prices surged in 2011, according to the USDA, grocery prices went up on some aisles and down on others. Fresh produce prices actually dropped. Rising energy prices show most in food that requires the most energy to produce, so you can find bargains and shrink your carbon footprint at the same time.
How bad is it? The Consumer Price Index shows the cost of food eaten at home up by 5.3% from last January to this one. The USDA predicts more of the same for 2012. (All price comparisons are from January 2011 to January 2012.)
Put your grocery budget on the anti-inflation diet to reap healthy dividends
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Here are some easy ways to use the ten ideas above in your own kitchen:
- Think sturdy and in-season when you choose your fruits and vegetables. For fruit, rely on melons, bananas, oranges, and pears. For vegetables, look for potatoes, cabbage, onions, carrots, and celery.
- Use less oil. Use your fingers to spread just 1/4 teaspoon of olive or corn oil in the bottom of a room-temperature pan before cooking onions, peppers, and garlic for sauces and stews. Food doesn't stick to the pan and you don't waste money on spray oils.
- Use apple sauce instead of oil. A cup of organic apple sauce costs about 50% less than a cup of organic canola oil.
- Eat your beans. Organic dried beans cost about 18 cents a serving. The USDA evaluated 94 conventionally grown fresh and processed vegetables and found that dried pinto beans cost the least at just 13 cents a cup. Beans are terrific sources of protein, fiber, and folate.
- Use flaxseed mixed with water instead of an egg to bind burgers and baked goods at less than one-third the cost. You'll cut the cholesterol, too, as I did in my Sweet Heart, Strong Heart Chocolate Cake.
- Use water in place of some or all of the milk when you bake. I've been surprised to see how little I notice the difference. For the bread recipes in Wildly Affordable Organic, make Good Whisk Bread instead of Whisk Sandwich Bread.
- Drink home-brewed coffee and tea. It's a bargain. Avoid soft drinks, which are full of sugar, chemicals, and possibly carcinogens.
Now more than ever, thrifty eating means healthy eating
Battle food-price inflation by cooking the Wildly Affordable Organic way: seasonal food, low on the food chain, cooked from scratch. You'll enjoy delicious meals and better health, according to researchers in the documentary Forks Over Knives:
Most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting animal-based and processed foods.
Cutting your grocery bills may also cut your health-care costs. You can't not afford to eat like it matters!