Families stretch food dollars with tips from UCCE nutrition educators
Consumers save over $41 a month after attending UC Cooperative Extension nutrition workshops
Consumers have seen their grocery bills rising over the last few months. To save money, buying store or generic brands and preparing meals at home are a couple of ways to adapt in the short term, according to UC Cooperative Extension nutrition educators.
UCCE nutrition educators offer tips and workshops to help families participating in the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program and CalFresh Healthy Living, UC program. With the information, the families are better able to make their food dollars last all month.
“After attending the workshop series, households across California were finding a savings of over $41 a month,” said Natalie Price, UCCE nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor in Los Angeles County.
Through a series of workshops and informational fliers, participating households have had success in reducing their food bill, improving healthy food knowledge, and improving food safety.
Currently UCCE offers EFNEP and CalFresh Healthy Living, UC lessons in 40 out of the 58 California counties. From Del Norte to San Diego County, nutrition educators are working with families to improve their diet quality and physical activity through a series of workshops available to eligible households. In a series of six to nine one-hour classes, families learn how to buy, store and prepare healthy, safe and nutritious food.
The EFNEP classes held throughout the state reach, on average, more than 17,000 participants, including attendees and household members of attendees. After taking the class, one participant said, “Before I only bought what was on sale, but now I have a shopping list. I have a menu of the week and I always look at the ingredients.”
Science-based nutrition information consistently ranks as one of the top areas of interest among the public, and these programs represent one of the premier opportunities to reach Californians with relevant resources.
“Over 90% of our program graduates reported (in post-class surveys) improved food resource management skills such as planning meals, making a shopping list, and comparing food prices, which has resulted in $19 to $64 grocery bill savings per month,” said Marisa Neelon, UCCE nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor for Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
Knowing what to buy, how to prepare and what to eat are key to help households improve both costs and nutrition. As one participant commented, “[I make] a list before I go shopping and planning what I will cook to avoid overspending.” Knowing what to buy, how to prepare and what to eat are key to help households improve both costs and nutrition.
This success has been replicated in other counties and translated into major savings for families at the grocery store. These savings can add up and make a significant impact, especially in the current environment of rising food prices.
The UCCE nutrition educators shared their top tips to save money on food:
- Check the grocery flyers for the food sales
- Make weekly menus of the food needed for your family meals and snacks
- Buy store or generic brands instead of national brands
- Read food labels to choose items that are nutrient rich
- Purchase canned and frozen foods along with fresh items
Check the CalFresh Healthy Living, UC or EFNEP webpages for nutrition education programs offered for eligible Californians in counties across the state.
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources has a list of online resources for anyone interested in becoming more active and eating healthier at https://ucanr.edu/sites/resourcedirectory.