10 tips to help you stretch your food dollars
Get the most for your food budget! There are many ways to save money on the foods that you eat. The three main steps are planning before you shop, purchasing the items at the best price, and preparing meals that stretch your food dollars.
- Plan, plan, plan!
Before you head to the grocery store, plan your meals for the week. Include meals like stews, casseroles, or soups, which "stretch" expensive items into more portions. Check to see what foods you already have and make a list for what you need to buy.
- Get the best price
Check the local newspaper, online, and at the store for sales and coupons. Ask about a loyalty card for extra savings at stores where you shop. Look for specials or sales on meat and seafood—often the most expensive items on your list.
- Compare and contrast
Locate the “Unit Price” on the shelf directly below the product. Use it to compare different brands and different sizes of the same brand to determine which is the best buy.
- Buy in bulk
It is almost always cheaper to buy foods in bulk. Smart choices are large containers of low-fat yogurt and large bags of frozen vegetables. Before you shop, remember to check if you have enough freezer space.
- Buy in season
Buying fruits and vegetables in season can lower the cost and add to the freshness! If you are not going to use them all right away, buy some that still need time to ripen.
- Convenience costs...go back to basics
Convenience foods like frozen dinners, pre-cut fruits and vegetables, and take-out meals can often cost more than if you were to make them at home. Take the time to prepare your own-and save!
- Easy on your wallet
Certain foods are typically low-cost options all year round. Try beans for a less expensive protein food. For vegetables, buy cabbage, sweet potatoes, or low-sodium canned tomates. As for fruits, apples and bananas are good choices.
- Cook once...eat all week!
Prepare a large batch of favorite recipes on your day off (double or triple the recipe). Freeze in individual containers. Use them throughout the week and you won’t have to spend money on take-out meals.
- Get creative with leftovers
Spice up your leftovers—use them in new ways. For example, try leftover chicken in a stir-fry, over a garden salad, or in chili. Remember, throwing away food is throwing away your money.
- Eating out
Restaurants can be expensive. Save money by getting the early bird special, going out for lunch instead of dinner, or looking for “2 for 1” deals. Ask for water instead of ordering other beverages, which add to the bill.