Newswise — BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The coronavirus pandemic is causing more Americans to buy groceries and eat from home, but what happens when you are running short on essential items or your budget begins to dwindle?

Fortunately, Tara Harman, RDN, an instructor with the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Department of Nutrition Sciences, has tips on how to stretch your groceries while saving money.

“It’s hard for anyone to change their usual grocery shopping and food habits in a flash, but COVID-19 is forcing all of us to reconsider how and what we’re eating,” Harman said. “If you’re on a tight budget, buying in bulk so you’re taking fewer trips to the grocery store might seem like an impossible or simply unreasonable ask.”

But, Harman says preparing a shopping list in advance that balances non-perishable (canned or frozen) and perishable food items (dairy products and fresh produce) and aims to repurpose ingredients for multiple meals can help. 

“For example, rather than relying on deli cuts of meat to make sandwiches during the day, consider buying less perishable — and also less expensive — foods like canned white meat chicken to make chicken salad for sandwiches,” she said. “Dry chicken salad is the worst, so rather than forgoing mayonnaise to save money, purchase whole milk yogurt instead.”

Harman says yogurt is versatile, and she recommends serving it for breakfast or a snack. 

“Still in the spirit of less perishable, less expensive items, you can top it with sliced peaches from a can to add a little more flavor and nutrition,” Harman said.

Harman adds that buying primarily non-perishable food items is an affordable way to build meals for an entire week, especially during this pandemic. But, by adding in some perishable, fresh food items with these shelf-stable staples, you create a healthy balance that satisfies both food cravings and budget concerns.

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Newswise: Making the Most of Your Groceries During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Credit: UAB

Caption: Tara Harman, RDN

Newswise: Making the Most of Your Groceries During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Credit: UAB

Caption: Chicken Salad Sandwich Recipe