Saving money on food: the super basics

April 21, 2008 § Leave a comment

As you probably know the price of food has been on the rise.   The USDA is projecting a 5% possible rise in at home food costs.  This is of course hitting at a time where many families are already stretched as far as they can go.   So, how do you save money on food.

First off quit eating out.  Basic, simple, good for your bottom line and your waistline.  Eating out, especially eating fast food, is horrible for your family’s health.  Eating out is terrible for you and worse for your children.  High in fat, high in sugar, large portions and low nutritional value is the norm in fast food and most restaurant food.  All that together means that stopping through the drive-through or calling for pizza should be a rare treat.

Reduce the amount of prepared foodyou purchase.  Convenience foods are convenient, but they cost much more per serving and are lower in nutrition than the home-made counterpart.  With the possible exceptions of ramon noodles and cheep boxed mac-n-cheese they cost more.  But when you start looking at nutritional value added in then the cost is not offset.  Things like cookies, crackers, chips, boxed meals, TV dinners, cake mixes are more costly than the made-from scratch versions and are higher in fat, sugar and preservatives.

Control your shopping.  Use a list and shop less.  If you create a menu and a shopping list you can help avoid “quick” trips to the super markets to pick up “one or two things” that cost your family a bundle in time, gas, and those little impluse purchases that sneak into the cart.

Menu planning  is perhapes the single most cost effective measure you can impliment.  First it allows you to follow the first four points more easily and second it helps you stay within your budget while you shop.  If you know what is on the menu for the rest of the week, have the needed items purchased and in your fridge and pantry, stopping by the local fast food joint is much less of a temptation.  Menu planning also allows you to make the most of super market circular sales and coupons.  It also allows you to avoid waste.  I can’t tell you how often food has gone bad before we ate it.  With a menu plan the letuce and peppers in the bottom of the fridge will not be going bad nearly as ofter.  Left over nights can be scheduled in and they can be eaten before the left-overs become a bio hazzard.

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