The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for supermarket food prices was 12.0 percent higher in November 2022 than November 2021, and the USDA predicts food prices will increase between 3.5 and 4.5 percent in 2023. With the CPI for other consumer goods expected to rise as well, it is increasingly more important — and challenging — for consumers to be prudent in grocery store purchases. Using their expertise and meal planning experience, retail dietitians can help shoppers find feasible strategies for managing their food budget. For example, showing customers how to add more beans as a protein source to meals is an easy tactic to keep food budgets in check.
Why Beans? The use of beans to create money-saving meals is not new, but continues to be a popular cost-saving strategy, and for good reason. Despite the ups and downs of food prices and inflation, dry beans still rank as one of the most economical sources of protein. It is hard to beat the value of a serving of beans: A 1/2 cup portion of cooked dry beans costs a mere $0.07 per serving. If a family of four substitutes dry beans for meat once a week for a year, they could save about $225 (The Bean Institute). In addition to being a low-cost ingredient, beans are versatile and provide needed nutrients like fiber, protein, potassium and more.
Educational Activation Ideas:
- Help Shoppers Discover Dry Beans. Many people shy away from dry beans because they may not understand how to prepare them. Introduce shoppers to the vast variety of dry beans available at your store and create a video showing how to cook them easily in an Instant Pot. The cooked beans can then be frozen in batches to add to future meals such as casseroles, salads, soups, or chili.
- Conduct a Batch Cooking Class with Beans. The Michigan Bean RDN Toolkit provides a complete outline for conducting a batch cooking class that features talking points on the nourishing benefits of beans, an overview of cooking methods for dry beans, tips for consuming more beans and recipe demo suggestions. Included is a chart on 30 ways to add more beans to meals.
- Offer Seasonal Solutions for “Using Your Bean” – As more individuals embrace a plant-forward meal pattern, they are looking for year-round ideas for adding more beans to meals and recipes. Provide exciting new recipes for shoppers to try. Examples may include this White Bean Buffalo Dip that swaps beans for chicken, this delicious Bean and Lentil Sloppy Joe recipe for family meals, and a tasty summer Bean Salad with Farro.
Retail dietitians have the opportunity to help individuals stretch limited food dollars by encouraging meal preparers to try bean recipes that fit with their tastes, special dietary needs, culture, and lifestyle. Consider these ideas and look for additional educational resources in the Michigan Bean Dietitian Toolkit.