July 16, 2008 at 8:05 PM CDT - Updated July 3 at 8:55 AM
Here are some tips to get the most from your food dollar:
Cook at home instead of eating out. Use easy recipes with simple ingredients. Make dishes from scratch...the more preparation that has already gone into a food product, the more it will cost. "Convenience" foods are nice, but cost much more. They also have lots of additives and preservatives that may not be healthy.
Cook more than one item at a time when you use your oven to save electricity/gas.
Buy in bulk if you have adequate storage space.
Meatless meals - pasta primavera, beans flavored with meat.
Buy generic brands rather than national brands. Compare the prices before you buy.
Replace soft drinks with water. (preferably tap water instead of bottled water and avoid that cost)
Take inventory to see what you have on hand in your cupboard, refrigerator and freezer. Plan your menus and meals to use what you already have. Make your shopping list to buy what you need to complete these meals.
Never go shopping without a shopping list.
Do not go grocery shopping when you are hungry.
If possible, leave the kids at home when you shop for food.
Use coupons wisely. Look for coupons for items you have put on your list. Don't simply buy an item just because you have a coupon for it.
Use unit pricing -- the labels on the shelves that break the price of the product down and shows how much you are paying per unit, such as per ounce.
Look up and down on the grocery shelves. Higher priced products are usually strategically placed at eye level.
Compare the different forms of a food, such as fresh, frozen or canned - to find the best buy.
Pay close attention to food packaging. Sometimes what appears to be the largest size may actually be smaller. Again, look at the label for number of servings per package.
Always check the product for "sell by," "use by," etc. dates.
Brown bagging it at work costs about one-third the cost of eating out at an inexpensive restaurant.
Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season - for price as well as quality. May want to check your local farmers market. Call your county office of MSU Extension Service to find the one nearest you.
Grow your own vegetables at home - in a garden or a container.
Do not waste food. Proper storage will prolong the shelf life. Learn to use leftovers creatively. (such as leftover rice or pasta and vegetables...)