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Is grocery shopping ‘frustrating and stressful’? Here are ways to stretch your dollars

WEST VALLEY CITY — High food prices are putting a strain on Utah families, and going to the grocery store can be a frustrating experience.

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

“It’s very frustrating and stressful,” Hermansen said. “I get nervous when I go to the grocery store because of how much I’m spending.”

Her family of six only has one child living at home, but her other children often come over for dinner.

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

“That money no longer goes as far as it used to,” Hermansen noted.

Every month Tina Hermansen spends between $800 and $1,000 on food. (KSL TV)

She’s not the only one who feels this way.

“The need for programming or assistance in accessing food has increased,” said Lea Palmer, a dietitian who sees firsthand the impact of rising food prices on Utah families. “I think the inflation rate has affected everyone.”

Tips for families

This causes many families to try different ways to stretch their dollars even further. Palmer has many tips for that.

“Go shopping sometime,” Palmer said. “Reduce the time you spend in the store.”

Plus, 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 buy in bulk the cost is usually lower.”

Hermansen has her own tricks to save money on food.

“For example, if I were to fry a whole chicken, I would take those bones and boil them and make my own bone broth and can it,” she said. “Then I don’t have to buy stock or anything for recipes.”

Tina Hermansen has her own tricks to save money on food. “For example, if I were to fry a whole chicken, I would take those bones and boil them and make my own bone broth and can it,” she said. “Then I don’t have to buy stock or anything for recipes.” (KSL TV)

She also freezes her family’s leftovers.

“Then we have a meal ready that we can throw in the oven when we’re ready to eat it,” Hermansen said.

It is also important to make sure you get enough healthy food. The federal government actually tracks how much it costs to eat a nutritious diet, dividing different budgets by size: low, moderate and liberal.

Hermansen’s budget fluctuates – given the size of her household – between low and moderate.

“It would be nice if we could get a few extras here and there,” Hermansen said, “but now that food prices have gone up, I can’t buy extras like I used to.”

Others find it nearly impossible to purchase enough nutritious food. If you’re in that group, Palmer said, don’t be shy.

“There’s nothing shameful about asking for help,” she said. “There are a lot of programs that are very invested in supporting our communities.”

For now, Hermansen is working hard to stay within her budget, while hoping that one day her grocery bill will be a little less painful.

“It would be nice if food were more affordable,” she said, “so people can get what they need.”

Additional Resources

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

The following websites may be helpful in meal planning and nutrition tracking: