(Photo | Courtesy of OnPoint Community Credit Union)
To help Oregonians and Washingtonians make the most of their food budgets, OnPoint Community Credit Union has partnered with Fred Meyer Stores to share a list of smart shopping tips to help people in local communities save on groceries and reduce food waste.
“It’s no secret that food prices are at record highs,” said Amy Reeves, vice president and Southwest Washington Area Manager, OnPoint Community Credit Union. “As precious — and pricey — as food can be, many of us make the mistake of wasting it, contributing to high food spending. The good news is that with a little pre-planning, you and your family can save considerable amounts of money and waste less food.”
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased by 8.3 percent from August 2021 to August 2022, according to a report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) yesterday. The report indicated that while inflation slowed for a second straight month with declining gasoline prices, consumer prices remain near 40-year highs as the cost of groceries and rent offset decreases in the energy sector.
While consumers can’t control escalating food prices, they can control how much food they throw away. Consider that Oregon households throw away an average of 6.3 pounds of food per week, according to a 2019 report by Community Environmental Services, a research and service unit of Portland State University. Of that waste, 71 percent was once edible.
“From establishing a sustainable meal prep routine to tracking sales and fuel points, there are many strategies customers can employ to create savings in their grocery budget,” said Jeffery Temple, director of Corporate Affairs for Fred Meyer Stores. “We are proud to build on our partnership with OnPoint and equip our shared communities with tools that will help put money back in their wallets.”
As the price of food and energy continues to impact family budgets, OnPoint and Fred Meyer released their ten tips to save money at checkout and throw away less food:
- Inventory your pantry, refrigerator and freezer, and shop with a list. Create an inventory list that includes expiration dates and quantities of all food and household items you have on hand. Update your list as you use each item and then add them to your grocery list. This will help you avoid buying too many of one item or not enough of another, saving you additional trips to the store that will cost you more money.
- Be methodical when buying in bulk. While buying in bulk can cost more initially, it can save you money in the long-term if you are shopping strategically. Bulk items can limit trips to the store, saving you time, money and gas. However, bulk items don’t pan out if you don’t purchase and preserve them properly. Nonperishable bulk items like pasta and spices are generally cheaper per unit versus nonperishables like produce, dairy and meat because they have a longer shelf life. If you do buy perishables in bulk, look at the expiration date and be realistic about whether you can consume the product before it expires. If not, think twice about your purchase or be sure to wash, package and freeze your items before they go bad.
- Create a sustainable meal prep routine. Spending time every week planning your meals is good for your physical and financial health — a true win-win. Create a sustainable meal plan by starting small, making it enjoyable and maximizing your ingredients. If you are new to meal prepping, begin with planning a few meals and snacks, and build momentum from there. Make meal planning fun by engaging the whole family, from choosing the menu to preparing the meal. Choose ingredients that can be used in other meals. For example, if you’re making spaghetti one night, save some sauce and make lasagna.
- Pre-portion snacks for kids. Growing children can eat a lot. Prepare your fridge and your budget by cutting up fruit and veggies, a cheaper and healthier alternative to packaged snacks. Purchase value packs of cured meats, cheeses and crackers and make portioned baggies. Keep water and healthy non-perishable snacks like trail mix or jerky in your car. Having water and snacks on hand can limit portions and cut down on last-minute trips to the drive-through.
- Use your freezer. Everything from cheese and lunch meat to nuts and pre-cooked meals has a freezer life. Freeze perishable items to extend their shelf life. If you are making a casserole, soup or other freezable meal, double or triple your recipe and freeze additional meals for another time.
- Avoid wasting food. Being a good steward of food saves you money. Keep your fridge at 40 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid over-freezing vegetables or undercooling meats and dairy. Store vegetables, fruit, meat and butter in their specific compartments. Store items like pasta, coffee and grains in a dark, cool, dry place so they don’t grow mold. Keep bananas, tomatoes, peppers and other items that emit gas in your pantry. If a food item doesn’t have a long shelf life, don’t purchase it until right before you’re going to eat it.
- Check the unit price of your item. Check the unit price for the item you’re about to purchase (it’s always on the shelf tag or listed on the product page online). A larger package size could have a smaller per-unit item price.
- Keep an eye out for sales and opt-in to digital savings. From weekly deals and savings events to “Must Buy” deals, each Fred Meyer offer is a little different. Double-check the coupon to ensure you are taking full advantage of the savings. Stay on top of every savings and special sales event by checking that your digital account preferences are set up to receive every email. Explore Fred Meyer’s mobile app to uncover additional digital savings, then clip coupons directly to your loyalty card for your next shop.
- Keep track and earn fuel points. Don’t let those points expire! Using your Fuel Points to fill up at a local Fred Meyer can save you up to $1.25 per gallon. Discover more ways to save, such as filling prescriptions at Fred Meyer pharmacies, using Kroger Ship for big purchases, joining the Fred Meyer Boost membership program, and taking advantage of extra earning events.
- Create a mindful budget with help from the pros. With costs going up, it’s crucial to be mindful of where your money is going. For help creating a sustainable grocery budget, visit one of OnPoint’s 55 locations (including 20 locations inside Fred Meyer stores) where branch teams can help you create a realistic financial roadmap that includes responsible monthly grocery expenditures.
OnPoint and Fred Meyer’s partnership began when the 90-year-old credit union announced it would open 20 new branches within the grocer’s stores, which was the largest branch expansion of any credit union in the country in 2021. Since then, OnPoint has helped members, Fred Meyer shoppers and employees conveniently build financial wellness. Visit onpointcu.com/locations-atms to view a full list of OnPoint’s 55 branch locations.