In an April 7th, article of the New York Times, the author ends with these words after going down the list of causes both in and out of our control about the shortage of food: “But it’s not clear how much can be done. Cheap food, like cheap oil, may be a thing of the past. ”

In a more recent article in the International Herald Tribune, a writer interjects this paragraph: “Apparently, high energy and grain prices, the impact of climate change and the growing demand for biofuels have all contributed to the scarcities. And Sheeran  [executive director of the UN’s World Food Program] indicated that the rise in basic food costs could continue until 2010.”

It is apparent that we are in for a long haul when it comes to the price of our food.  In America, we may not be facing near the devastation that other countries are in the wake of this crisis and shortage, but we are all starting to feel the pinch of higher grocery bills.

What’s a family to do?  Below are just a few tips for stretching those food dollars in a world with looming long term shortage and prices:

1. Use those heals of the bread. If you can’t make a sandwich you like using them, then cut them up for croutons.  A little olive oil, garlic salt, paprika and parmesan cheese mixed over them, toss a bit and “tah-dah” almost free croutons.

2. After making a batch of croutons, keep the bread crumbs from a few of the batches and add to a bit of flour for a great ‘shake and bake’ chicken coating, easily tossed, coated and cooked in the oven.

3. When slicing tomatoes for sandwiches, after slicing off the end that has the stem in the top, instead of tossing it in the trash, place it on the counter top, with the inside down flat, now cut around the stem in small cube pieces.  These are great tomato toppers for small salads (like you should be packing for lunch) or put in the freezer for use in salsas, gazpachos and other recipes calling for diced tomatoes.  After just a few lunches you have a ‘can’ worth.

4. Serve more meatless meal options throughout the week.  A nice baked potato stuffed with broccoli, green peppers or cheese and fake bacon bits costs very little in comparison to meats.  A bit of horse-radish mixed into the sour cream adds a bit of a punch as well.

5.  The biggest tip is a three part magic formula that will affect all the above tips – make from scratch all that you can, grow your own foods and trim your portion sizes.  Even in the city, garden boxes are making a comeback, suburban homes are learning to eat more simply (not just easier, but simpler) and we all know that many of us would actually benefit from eating less, and that will cost less.

 It is clear we are in for the long haul with the food shortage/prices situation. If we think of creative ways to combat this within our own homes, we actually may be part of the solution!