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8 Easy Ways to Lower Food Costs

October 14, 2013 5:33 pm

Grocery shopping for the family’s meals can be a fairly mindless chore, though coupon clipping has become increasingly popular as a way to save dollars in a tight money environment.

Savvy shoppers at thesimpledollar.com suggest eight more ways to help cut food costs:

  • Determine where the best prices are – Make a list of 25-30 items you buy often. Shop once at each of several markets in your area and write down the prices of each of those items. From that, you should be able to determine where prices are generally lowest.
  • Start with a list – Take the time each week to write out a meal plan and a shopping list. Resist impulse buying unless the item is on sale at a really great price and/or can be substituted for something else on your list.
  • Buy unprocessed foods – The more processed it is, the more expensive it will be. Choose raw pasta, rice and veggies instead of canned or frozen varieties. It will cost far less and taste better.
  • Buy produce in season – The produce you buy in summer is often twice as costly in mid-winter. Buy lots of in-season fruit and veggies, cooking and freezing to use in family meals months later.
  • Think about a deep freezer – It may be worth the cost if you use it to buy meat and other items on sale and to store casseroles and sauces you cooked while ingredient prices were at their lowest.
  • Try a garden – Cooking staples like tomatoes, onions, and squash are fairly easy to grow, and the savings mount up when you don’t have to buy them at the market. If gardening isn’t your thing, shop for produce at a local farmer’s market.
  • Buy in bulk – Detergents, paper products, and multi-packs of the items you use frequently are much cheaper per unit. Buy items in bulk if you can store or freeze them until needed.
  • Prepare more of your own food – Making cookies from scratch or soup from fresh veggies is cheaper and better-tasting than anything in a box or can. Get a basic cookbook, involve the family, and learn to cook better together.
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