Prices for many everyday essentials, including food, have increased this year as the economy works through pandemic infrastructure issues.

However, there isn’t a food shortage in our country. Iowa farmers continue to work each and every day to provide high-quality, nutritious foods for our tables.

Instead, the main factors behind the rising food prices include labor shortages and heightened demand as consumers return to pre-pandemic food spending levels, explains Jayson Lusk, a food and agriculture economist from Purdue University.

If you’re looking to save money at the grocery store, Iowa State University nutrition expert Sarah Francis recommends choosing budget-friendly canned or frozen fruits and vegetables, which are just as nutritious as fresh produce.

And often overlooked, canned meats and poultry are also affordable, healthy choices that are time-savers in the kitchen, Francis says.

“I use canned chicken to make chicken al a king, or you could cook it in a casserole,” Francis says. “You don’t have to worry about cooking (canned) chicken first before putting it in a casserole. Same with canned beef. You can drain it and add it to soup instead of cook your own. They’re healthy, nutrient-rich foods for fast meal prep.”

Francis also recommends checking in with your serving sizes. For example, a 4- to 5-ounce portion of beef (roughly equal to the size of your palm) is considered one serving, according to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines.

You can stretch out your meals by thinly slicing the meat and adding it to veggies for a quick stir-fry, Francis says.

For more budget-saving tips and recipes, visit the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach “Spend Smart. Eat Smart.” website.

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