The old saying, “Necessity is the Mother of Invention” is a very truthful and revealing statement. But in today’s economy it might be better read as “Frugality is the Mother of Survival”. During hard economic times people will resort to all sorts of ways to save money and spend less. One of the areas often targeted is the food budget. Simply buying less and therefore eating less may be a good thing for those trying to lose weight, but it can also be unnecessary. There are many ways a person can eat well without sacrificing the quality of food. Here are a few tips:
1. Look For Coupons
Typically, every week the major newspaper in your town will come out with all the weekly ads and coupons for local stores and businesses. Take the time each week to look through every coupon and cut out any items which you might be in need of – either at the present moment or the future. Even if there is no present need for a food item, do not disregard the coupon, but rather keep it on hand since most coupon expiration dates can range anywhere from three months down the road up to a year. Remember, some stores will double coupon values up to 50¢. The more coupons you use the more money you will save and the savings can add up – especially over time.
2. Look For Sales
Sale items generally do not require coupons. A perfect example is the purchase of meats. Meat prices if unchecked can quickly add to your total grocery bill, and this is completely unnecessary. Look for sales that either keep the price of meat under $1.99 per pound, or which offer a buy one get one (BOGO) free deal.
Work with your butcher to maximize the value of your purchase. For example if you are looking for ground beef but it is not on sale, look for other cuts of beef which are on sale such as London broil. Ask your butcher to grind the meat in their meat grinder for you. When you get home divide the meat into 1 pound segments and package each individually. Label and date each package accordingly and place in the freezer. Now you can use the meat whenever you need it, whether you’re making meatloaf, tacos, or even hamburgers.
3. Visit the Fresh Deli Department
If you tend to eat a lot of sandwiches, you can often get a better deal on your sliced cheeses and meats if you go to the deli counter rather than buying the prepackaged items. Another advantage to working with those at the deli is the ability to ask for a specific amount of the item. For example you can order 2 1/2 pounds or simply 1/4 pound if you only need a small amount for a recipe.
You can also request that they slice the meat or cheese thinner than normal. They can do this because they use electric meat slicers which can be adjusted for various slicing widths.
4. Bulk Food Items Can Pay Off in the Long Run
It is also a good idea to check out prices of bulk items. Many times when items are sold in bulk the price per item or unit is less than buying individually. However, be careful to do the math yourself as some stores will offer bulk items, but not necessarily at a lower price per item.
Whenever purchasing in bulk remember to freeze what you do not need. Examples are extra loaves of bread, butter, bagels, English muffins, meats, poultry, and grated cheeses such as Romano or Parmesan. This will prevent the extra supply of food from going bad and thus being tossed out.
5. Strategic Cookbooks and Recipes
The final tip for those who enjoy cooking, is to invest in some cookbooks or resources specifically featuring simple recipes which do not require a lot of ingredients. For example, Italian recipes often use minimal ingredients which produce great tasting meals. Keep this in mind when looking through cookbooks. By having fewer ingredient requirements for your meals, you will consequently reduce the number of items on your grocery list, thereby saving you even more money.
Incorporating these tips into your regular food shopping routine will quickly become a natural process. As you learn to spot good deals you will also learn when and when not to take advantage of them. If you are skeptical at the amount you can save following these 5 tips, track your expenses for three months and compare with the previous three month’s expenses. You just may be surprised at what you discover.
About the Guest Blogger: Liz Krause has a passion for cooking, specifically recipes which are economical and easy to prepare. She write reviews on economical kitchen appliances such as stainless steel meat grinders which can be used to grind whole cuts of meat and are commonly used by avid outdoorsmen and hunters. She lives in Virginia with her husband who is also an enthusiastic cook.