AMES, Iowa -- The cost of living – measured by the Consumer Price Index – rose during 2008 at the fastest pace since 1991 and the food index jumped 6 percent in the 12 months ending in July 2008. With food representing a significant share of consumer spending, about 14 percent, this price increase over the past year has taken a bite out of consumers’ purchasing power.
“Increasing food prices are forcing people to make purchasing changes – in what food they buy and where they eat. Iowa State University Extension can help them make good decisions about those changes,” said Peggy Martin, ISU Extension nutrition program coordinator. “We have just launched the Spend Smart Eat Smart website. It offers consumer information that builds the skills and knowledge necessary to affordably make or buy healthy meals.”
The Spend Smart Eat Smart website is one way Iowa State University Extension is helping families eat nutritiously and manage finances. The interactive website at www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings offers weekly smart tips; game-like activities about planning, shopping and preparing meals; and a blog for conversations with ISU Extension nutrition specialists.
One tip from the website that Martin shares is to analyze your resources. In order to buy the most food for the least money, she says to consider your money, time, and knowledge and skills.
“Ask yourself three questions,” Martin said. “How much money do I have to spend? How much time do I have that I can use for planning, shopping, and preparing food that will result in less money spent at the grocery store? What knowledge and skills do I have—or need—to make the most of what I can afford to buy?
“Balancing these three—dollars, time, and knowledge and skills —can solve your food budget challenges,” said Martin. “With fewer dollars available for buying food, families need to invest some time into planning to shop, shopping and preparing meals. ISU Extension’s Spend Smart Eat Smart website will help people build knowledge and skills to do just that.”
For more tips and information on buying and eating nutritious food, visit the Spend Smart Eat Smart website www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings .