Senior Beat
by Carol Higgins Taylor
Special to The weekly

There is good news on the economic front as winter approaches. Oil and gas prices have

dropped. Maybe we can afford to turn up the thermostat a degree or two.

Now if only food prices would follow suit. Getting sticker shock at the grocery store can be a weekly occurrence. Food prices are high with healthful choices leading the pack.

The National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging, has an informative article that can help you navigate the supermarket. “What’s On Your Plate? Smart Food Choices for Healthy Aging” offers some smart advice on saving money at the checkout counter.

Here are ideas to try from

• Inquire about senior discounts or loyalty cards, such as the kind that can be attached to a key ring. Sometimes these cards come with continuous coupons and special deals for card


• Think about clipping coupons. They are a great way to save cash, especially if the stores will double them. My mother is a master at working the coupon system and saves a bundle on groceries. However, coupons only will save you money if you use them on things you were

to buy anyway. The temptation can be strong to buy unintended items because of the money-

off offer. This is a bad habit of mine. Just be sure to check the prices carefully because the store

brand may be cheaper than the name brand even after the coupon is deducted.

• Single serving packs are very convenient however that convenience does not come free. If you’re willing to do the prep, you can save. Think about shredding a block of cheese, which actually melts better than the pre-shredded, and buying a head of lettuce and cutting it up yourself instead of purchasing bagged produce.

• A good blender will make delicious smoothies. Just combine yogurt, Greek style for more protein, and various frozen fruit, which is just as nutritious as fresh without the fear of spoilage. Experiment and find the flavors you love. These smoothies have calcium and vitamins from the yogurt and loads of antioxidants from the fruit, particularly if you choose brightly colored berries. They are also easy to eat for seniors who struggle with digesting solid food and consuming enough nutrients. Sometimes an older person’s appetite is diminished so it is important to pack as much nutrition as possible into smaller meals.

• Take note of the “unit prices.” Along with price, the stickers on the shelves tell you what an item costs per ounce, or pound. By comparing the unit prices you will see if you’re getting the best value on your chosen brand. Might be time to shop around.

• Bulk shopping can be great if you have storage space and if you can freeze or consume an item before it goes bad. You won’t save money if you’re not realistic about how much you actually can eat in that “freshness window.” I speak from experience on this one, and it is

disheartening to toss out food that has gotten away from me. I find bananas to be particularly

fickle. It seems that within days they are brown, soft and attracting fruit flies.

• Frozen fruits and veggies are a great option to fresh. I actually prefer them given my banana issues. Canned is good also, but be careful of the sodium content in vegetables and possible added sugar in fruit.

As the holidays get underway, we’re apt to buy more food for company, cook more, or maybe give baked goods as gifts. Planning ahead with a careful eye on the ingredient list can be

a money saver.

A senior friend of mine organizes all her holiday cooking to be sure that there is no  waste. It takes time but she claims it is all worth it in the end.

Carol Higgins Taylor is an advocate for seniors and owns a public relations firm in Bangor. Email her at

Carol Higgins Taylor is director of communications at Eastern Area Agency on Aging.