Even though grocers want to make money, Jeff Anderson, executive chef for Vons, Pavilions and Safeway company, wants consumers to get the most from their food dollars. That means canned goods, the store's private label and getting products that provide for more than one meal.
You just have to get a little creative. Anderson took some inexpensive items and turned them into flavorful dishes that can be served both hot or cold.
He made farfalle pasta with canned peppers and tomatoes, black eyed peas, garbanzo beans and feta, an easy feast to fix.
"I love pasta and beans together. It fills you up. It gets you through those long afternoons where maybe you're still hungry," Anderson said.
His spicy take on traditional tuna features canned Chipotle puree and Greek yogurt in the mix with Romaine, tomato and Jack cheese on whole grain bread. He says a two-ounce portion will give you the right amount of calories.
Here's an old fashioned treat that can get the kids involved: slice some bananas, layer it with chocolate and vanilla pudding from cups, add Greek yogurt in lieu of whipped cream and some crushed vanilla wafers.
Anderson says to let it sit for 20-30 minutes before you serve it and you're good to go.
All these dishes feed a family of four for under $10. They've got protein, produce, the right fats and good carbohydrates.
Remember, the less processed and packaged, the less food usually costs and the more the food retains its nutritional value. Yes, some items might take a bit longer to prepare, but not massively so. And the payoff - saving money - is worth it.
Sometimes it's even a matter of seconds, not even minutes. Take old-fashioned oatmeal. A big tub costs just pennies per serving. It's a great whole grain buy and you can make this for about a minute or so, about the same as the more costly sugary packet kind.
Another inexpensive protein option is eggs.
"Eggs are really affordable," Anderson said. "You get two eggs for 60 cents."