As families battle inflation and elevated food costs, shoppers are looking for new ways to stretch every dollar in the grocery store. “With a little planning and preparation, you can make the most out of grocery store trips without breaking the bank,” notes Maggie Cimarolli, registered dietitian and nutrition educator with St. Louis District Dairy Council. “Working dairy foods into the menu is helpful. Dairy foods are accessible, add a nutritional punch, and deliver flavor to meals.”

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Strategic planning, purchasing and preparation can help to reduce food costs. Simple tips include:

Plan: Take an inventory of ingredients on hand and review the grocery store sales flyer. Next, search for recipes that include these ingredients. From there, build a weekly meal menu that includes all food groups: dairy, protein foods, grains, fruits, and vegetables. Create a list of needed items and stick to it. This will keep you on track and reduce unnecessary spending.

Finding ingredients that are healthy, budget friendly, and family approved can be a challenge. Dairy milk is naturally nutrient rich and versatile, making it a must-have item on the shopping list.

“Milk is readily available and provides 13 essential nutrients in every glass, in every brand, from every store; making it a valuable food staple,” Cimarolli said. “Milk is also a key ingredient in many recipes, from creamy soups and casseroles to baked goods.”

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Purchase: Consider buying foods that are high in nutrients and low in cost. Selecting foods by the nutrients they provide can help deliver the most nutrition bang for your buck. Keep in mind, convenience foods that are pre-cut, pre-washed, or ready to eat are typically more expensive than less processed foods.

Due to dairy’s nutrient dense package and versatile flavor, it remains a staple on every grocery list.

“Milk and dairy foods offer vitamins and minerals and add variety to meals,” says Cimarolli. “According to recommendations made in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 3 servings of dairy every day will help meet nutrient needs.”

Prepare: Try doubling or tripling recipes, then divide leftovers into individual portions and freeze. This works well with soups and casseroles. Defrost and reheat these meals when short on time. Having a plan for leftovers, such as using them in subsequent meals, can also help stretch food dollars.

Keep in mind, most dairy products can be frozen for later use. When freezing milk, leave space at the top of the container because milk expands when it freezes. Cheese and butter can also be frozen. Make sure to tightly wrap them in plastic before freezing to keep air and moisture away.

Milk, cheese and yogurt have a place in the family budget and shopping cart. Dairy’s versatility makes it easy to incorporate into breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals. Whether enjoyed as a snack or used as an ingredient in soups, salads, stews or casseroles, dairy can help round out a balanced meal and budget.

For more information on milk and dairy foods, visit or contact Maggie Cimarolli at 314-835-9668 or Follow St. Louis District Dairy Council on Facebook and Instagram at STLDairyCouncil.

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