How Potatoes Can Reduce Grocery Bills

by G.M. Barlean
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Potatoes can provide you a more balanced diet and budget! Consider these reasons to add more potatoes to your weekly meal plan.

Want to stretch your bucks when making meals?

Then throw out the notion that potatoes are an evil starch. They’re a whole food, good for your family, and play nicely with a tight budget.

Are potatoes healthy for you?

According to the USDA, one medium baked potato has around 163 calories. The potato is also a good source of fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, and protein.

The data shows the potato isn’t unhealthy. The real problem with potato consumption is more about loading your baked spud with butter, sour cream, and cheese or eating fried potatoes from the drive-thru. However, a simple baked potato drizzled with a little butter or olive oil and sprinkled with salt lets the taste of natural goodness shine through. And, of course, best of all, it stretches your meal and stretches your dollars, too.

How can potatoes contribute to lower food costs?

First, let’s talk nutrients, specifically protein, because protein is often the most expensive nutrient we require.

Based on a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet, the FDA tells us we need to consume at least 50 grams of protein per day. That probably equates to 25 grams per person for your family’s evening meal, which likens to three ounces and is the size of a deck of cards.

Keep in mind, one can eat more protein, and here in America, most of us do (around twice the recommended amount according to The New York Times). Making too much meat per person increases the cost of the dinner you feed your family.

Note: This information is based on people over five years old, varies if you’re working out or trying to lose weight. Diabetics or anyone under medical care should follow their doctor’s specified diet suggestions.

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Let’s assume you’re feeding a family of five, which includes your spouse, three children above the age of five, and yourself. Ground beef is a good choice of protein since it’s inexpensive, easy to prepare, readily available, and generally enjoyable to most children. (See also: Ways to Stretch Ground Beef – and the Grocery Budget.)

One pound of ground beef will give you a bit more than you require, and in 2021, you could purchase this for an average of $4.26 as COVID drove beef prices up (source: beefmarketcentral.com.) One pound of ground beef for five people isn’t a lot of meat, is it? Would it fill them up? Probably not. Luckily, meals usually include a vegetable and a starch, and starch is what helps quell hunger.

In December 2021, the average cost of potatoes was $.75 per pound. (source: fred.stlouisfed.org.) A five-pound bag of potatoes can be purchased for around $3-$4. That bag will contain approximately ten medium-sized potatoes.

You can serve medium baked potatoes to each of the five people in your family for .29 cents per person per meal! One meal for five will cost $1.45 for the potatoes and $3.95 for the meat for a total of $5.40 for the whole family of five. Add a vegetable or two and you have a healthy meal at a very low cost.

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So, why wouldn’t you feed your family potatoes?

Whether boiled, baked, roasted, mashed, in a potato salad, or a casserole, you can stretch your protein and be sure your loved ones are getting good nutrition and healthy, whole foods. A healthy meal with a filling starch can mean preventing your family from snacking after dinner on expensive and fattening foods like chips or sweets.

Fill them up. Stretch your buck. Eat potatoes. They’re better for your diet and your wallet than you realize.

Reviewed February 2022

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