Whether they’re on a tight budget or not, most people enjoy saving money on food. Here’s some tips to help you:
In the fresh produce aisle, select fruits and vegetables that are in season. Apples, bananas and carrots are usually a good buy anytime of the year. Think twice before grabbing the bag of prewashed lettuce. Lettuce in the bag is usually more expensive than purchasing a head or bunch of lettuce. However, if you never wash the head of lettuce and end up throwing it away, you’ll be better off buying the bagged prewashed lettuce.
In the dairy section, milk is the least expensive way to get your three servings of dairy each day. Purchase milk in the largest container you can finish before it gets sour. Per cup, a quart of milk is nearly twice as expensive as a gallon of milk. Compare the cost of buying cheese in a block and pre-shredded cheese. It is often the same price, and you can save time with pre-shredded.
When purchasing meat and beans, dried beans are one of the most economical sources of protein. Canned beans are a good source and can save time because they don’t need to be soaked. A person can save money by serving smaller portions of meat. One pound of ground beef or other meat without bones should serve four people. One pound of meat with a bone (like a pork chop) should serve three people. Another strategy is to buy and freeze meat when it is on sale.
In the bread and cereal aisle, try purchasing day-old bread, which is often half the price of fresh bread. Select plain cereals, which are lower in cost than the sugar-coated or fancy cereals. For hot cereals, purchase the large container instead of a box of individual servings.
In every aisle, compare the unit prices of different brands and package sizes. The unit price is listed on the price tab below the product. Even though an item is on sale, another item may still cost less per unit (per ounce, for example). Finally, skip the cookie, cracker and soda pop aisles. Those aisles are where you are likely to drop the most money for the least nutritional benefit.
– Mary Schroeder is a health and nutrition educator with University of Minnesota Extension.