Grocery shopping can be frustrating and stressful. Here are ways to stretch your dollars

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WEST VALLEY — High food prices are squeezing Utah families. Going to the grocery store can be a frustrating experience.

Tina Hermansen knows all about that. She's a wife, mother and substitute teacher from West Valley.

"It's very frustrating and stressful," Hermansen said. "I get anxious going to the grocery store because of how much I'm spending."

Her family of six has just one child still living at home, but her other kids come over to eat often.

Every month she spends between $800 and $1,000 on food.

"That money doesn't go as far as it used to," Hermansen pointed out.

She's not alone in feeling that way.

"The need for programming or assistance to getting food access has gone up," said Lea Palmer, a dietitian who sees firsthand the impact of rising food prices on Utah families. "I think that inflation rate has hit everybody."

Tips for families

This has many families trying different ways to stretch their dollars even further. Palmer has a lot of tips for that.

"Go shopping once," Palmer said. "Reduce the time that you're in the store."

On top of that, she said, go to the store with a menu plan and a list.

Additionally, "cook once, eat twice," Palmer said, and try "to cook in bulk because when you purchase in bulk, it's usually a lower cost overall."

Hermansen has her own tricks for saving money on food.

"For instance, if I were to bake a whole chicken, then I'd take those bones and boil it and make my own bone broth and can it," she said. "Then I don't have to buy broth or whatever for recipes."

Tina Hermansen has her tricks for saving money on food, including using chicken bones to make her own broth.
Tina Hermansen has her tricks for saving money on food, including using chicken bones to make her own broth. (Photo: Meghan Thackrey, KSL-TV)

She also freezes any leftovers her family has.

"Then we have a meal all ready to throw in the oven when we're ready to eat it," said Hermansen.

It's also important to make sure you're getting enough healthy foods. The federal government tracks how much it costs to eat nutritiously, laying out different budgets by size — low, moderate, and liberal.

Hermansen's budget for her household size hovers between low and moderate.

"It would be nice if we could get little extras here and there," Hermansen said, "but with how the prices of food have gone up, I can't buy extras anymore like I used to."

Others find buying enough nutritious food nearly impossible. If you're in that group, Palmer said, don't be shy.

"There's nothing shameful about going and asking for help," she said. "There's a lot of programs out there who are very invested in supporting our communities."

For now, Hermansen works hard to stay on track with her budget while hoping her grocery bill might be a little less painful someday.

"It would be nice if food were more affordable," she said, "so people could get what they need."

Additional resources

If you need help buying food, check out the following programs and resources:

The following websites can be helpful with meal planning and nutrition tracking:

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Daniel Woodruff
Daniel Woodruff is a reporter/anchor with deep experience covering Utah news. He is a native of Provo and a graduate of Brigham Young University. Daniel has also worked as a journalist in Indiana and Wisconsin.


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