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Stretching Food Dollars

Finding ways to save on groceries is always a good idea, especially when income is reduced or more has to be spent for other things, like gas for transportation. There are lots of ways you can stretch your food dollar. When there is less to spend for food, eating out less often is a way to save money. Fast food is expensive. You can save by packing your own lunch for work and by bringing snacks, coffee or drinks from home. There are ways you can save on groceries too.

Getting started:

Do your homework. Once a week sit down and plan what meals to prepare for the whole week, or for 2 weeks or more at a time. Even if you do not have time to plan all your meals, start by planning your evening meals. Check recipes and make a list of the ingredients needed. See what food you already have at home that can be used and buy only what you need. Review store ads for best buys. Have a food budget and stick to it.

Shopping:

Go shopping only once a week, if possible, for perishables and to save on gas. Check ads and find which store has the best prices and products you need and shop there. Always make, take and use a list. Stick to your list. Having a list keeps you on track and reduces the risk that you will forget something and have to go back to the store. Have the family member who can resist impulse buying do the grocery shopping. Avoid shopping with children or other family members if they contribute to impulse buying. Buy mostly seasonal fruits and vegetables which will be fresher in-season and will usually be less expensive. Avoid expensive convenience and junk food and sugary soft drinks. Read the shelf tags and labels to compare unit costs, as smaller or larger sizes are not always cheaper. To really save, substitute store brands for name brands. Look for store deals on the highest and lowest shelves. Compare the unit cost of items available as frozen, dried or canned. Buy whole chickens which cost less per pound than pre-cut. Buy a large package of meat and divide and freeze it into meal portions at home. Buy regular rice and potatoes instead of instant, if they cost less and if you can use the potatoes before they spoil. Pay attention at check-out to be sure you get charged the right prices.

At home:

Cook only as much food as your family will eat to avoid waste. Save and use leftovers. Reduce fattening and expensive desserts. Drink juices, water or tea instead of expensive alcoholic beverages. Stop smoking. Plant a garden or grow vegetable plants in pots on a patio. Prepare more meals “from scratch.” Make your own soups, baked goods, snacks. Pick out 3-4 things you buy regularly and find ways to save on those items. Set aside cash in the amount you have to spend for groceries and do not use a credit card. To cut costs, plan meals which use less expensive ingredients. Use coupons only if they are for an item you would normally buy and will use.

Interesting to know:

The more time you spend in the store, the more likely you are to impulse buy. Do not shop for groceries when you are hungry. You are likely to buy more when hungry.

Last Updated: 7/12/2012 2:55:12 PM
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