Wallets are stretched. Budgets are broken. Even prices for staple foods such as flour, eggs and milk have increased dramatically from 2007-2008. Flour prices are up 37 percent, eggs are up 44 percent and milk costs jumped 23.1 percent. These days, many families are carrying the weight of their financial burdens in their grocery cart.

But before you panic, take a deep breath. Families can stretch their dollars and regain control over their food budget by implementing a few simple practices, and rolling out some money-saving recipes that taste, and feel, great. Here's a list of top tips for stretching your grocery budget, plus family-friendly recipes to save the day.

  • Reduce your supermarket stops. One of the most common financial mistakes when shopping is impulse buying, which can create havoc on your food budget. By limiting visits to the supermarket, you reduce this possibility and are forced to plan ahead.
  • Cooking seasonally. Food that is in season is cheaper than off-season produce, which often is shipped over long distances.
  • Buy locally. Food produced close to home requires less fuel for transportation. Farmer's Markets are great choices when on a budget.
  • Manage a meal menu. Plan your meals for the week, and concentrate on only buying items that you need.
  • Build a budget. When you get home from the grocery store, multiply your bill by four and you will have a fairly accurate estimate of your monthly food costs. Stay within this price range every time you go grocery shopping.
  • Search for sales. Check the Sunday paper or in-store fliers each week to stay informed on the sale items.
  • Lavish your leftovers. Creating multiple meals from a dish saves a tremendous amount of money and shopping time.
  • Stay away from prepackaged products. A head of lettuce is a more cost-effective purchase than the bagged salad mixes.
  • Buy in bulk. When hosting a party, plan a menu that includes seasonal products and items that can be purchased on sale and in bulk.

BUDGET FRIENDLY RECIPES

Ham with Honey Mustard Glaze

  • 1 half ham
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons prepared mustard

Bake ham according to package directions. Meanwhile, combine brown sugar, honey and mustard. Thirty minutes before ham is done, remove from oven. Score surface; spoon on glaze. Continue basting with the glaze during the last 30 minutes of baking. Serves 8 to 10.

Zesty Italian Soup

  • 5 cups water
  • 1 large baking potato, peeled and diced
  • 2/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 6 chicken flavored bouillon cubes
  • 1 (14½-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1 cup diced pepperoni
  • 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese

In large saucepan, combine water, potato, onion, celery, carrot, and bouillon cubes. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Add remaining ingredients except pepperoni and cheese. Cover and simmer 20 minutes or until potato is tender. Stir in pepperoni and cheese. Serves 8.

Citrus Chicken Stir-Fry

  • 1/3 cup prepared citrus marinade
  • 2 (5-ounce) cans Premium White Chicken, drained
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups fresh stir-fry vegetables (such as broccoli, onions, peppers, pea pods and mushrooms)
  • Hot, cooked brown rice
  • Grated fresh orange peel, for garnish if desired

In large plastic food storage bag, combine marinade with chicken. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes. Heat oil in large non-stick skillet or wok. Add vegetables and stir-fry 3 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Add chicken with sauce to vegetables. Heat 2 minutes or until warmed through. Serve over brown rice and garnish with grated orange peel. Serves 3 to 4.

Quick and Simple Skillet Dinner

  • 1 (16-ounce) package ground turkey
  • 1 (16-ounce) jar salsa
  • 1 (15-ounce) can turkey chili with beans
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1½ cups celery, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

In large, non-stick skillet, brown turkey; drain. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 20 to 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally. Serves 4.

For additional tips and recipes visit www.HormelFoodsRecipes.com.