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Trying to stretch every dollar? Here are some simple tips to help save money on food:
- Clip coupons. Shop at stores that double the value of a coupon. Some stores will triple coupons. Coupons for FREE products are the best out of any coupon, and one should take time to find these. Coordinate coupons with store ads. Use coupons at stores where the item is already on sale to increase the value of the coupon.
- Join a coupon swapping organization. Swap coupons with users in the same geographic area. Exchange for items that you frequently use.
- Create a grocery list and stick to it. Don't venture towards the eye-catching advertisements.
- Don't buy things just because they're cheap. Buy only what you actually need.
- Stick to your budget. This will force you be more creative with your recipes and pay more attention to your nutritional needs.
- Compare prices. Most grocery stores post the "price per ounce" along with the cost of a product.
- Buy in Bulk. It tends to cost less if you buy larger quantities. Buy durable goods that you'll need in the future, such as kleenex or paper towels. Buy family-size cereal.
- Shop for grocery store baked goods early in the day. That is when bakeries mark down their day-old items.
- Shop for grocery store meat later in the day. That is when the meat department marks down the items about to go past the "sell by" date. This meat is perfectly safe and can be frozen for later use.
- Consider buying private-label or store brands. In many cases, these rival the quality of the well known brands, but at a significantly lower cost.
- Avoid processed foods. They may be convenient, but they're usually expensive and less nutritious. Buy cheap, healthy foods that are easy to fix, such as whole grain pasta, legumes and lentils.
- Select plant proteins. Include grains, legumes and nuts. Animal products can be very expensive. Meatless Monday is a public health campaign associated with the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. It encourages people to give up meat once a week to cut the intake of saturated fat. Check out the site for meatless recipes! 
- Check deep-discount grocery stores. They purchase overstocks and test market items from manufacturers. Be flexible as they offer a rotating stock and items change daily. You can save up to 40% on brand-name items by adjusting your menu. The west coast's deep discounter is Grocery Outlet (www.groceryoutlets.com).
- Join a wholesale club. They usually sell in bulk at cheaper prices than their competitors. Consider applying to BJ's, Costco or Sam's Club. Be sure to account for the cost of membership and transportation -- they may outweigh the benefit in savings. Smart & Final is a smaller, no-membership janitorial and restaurant supply store.
- Fringe Benefits If you need a job, look for a job in the restaurant industry. You can frequently bring home food for free or cheap, even when not going home. This is especially helpful if you want to go on a date, and don't want to appear penny-pinching. Family-run businesses are best for this.
- Learn how to cook. Go to the library and borrow cookbooks and magazines with simple recipes. It's easy to make a nice dish with pasta, rice or beans. Practice makes perfect.
- Learn to enjoy cooking from scratch. You will be less likely to eat out. You can carefully craft low cost healthy meals.
- Learn to roll yesterday's leftovers into today's meal. Create a new dish.
- Learn to make great-tasting dishes at a lower cost. Eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches instead of roast beef. Eat macaroni and cheese instead of steak.
- Manage your refrigerator. Never let food go bad. Eat it or use it as an ingredient in a sauce, casserole or soup. For example, old salsa can be added to a curry and old milk can be turned into a quiche. Of course, don't use anything that has actually gone sour or rancid.
- Plan meals based on what you have on hand. Bring out your creative side.
- Plan meals based upon what's on sale. Change your recipes accordingly.
- Find Cheap Recipes On-line There's lots of good cheap recipes on-line if you look, e.g. http://deliciouscheapmeals.com.
- Share a plate of food. Restaurants usually serve enough for two. Don't pay for more than you need. Take food home for an extra meal.
- Try growing your own fruits and vegetables. Even if it's only tomatoes on a sunny windowsill in your apartment. Dry out the seeds, of whatever you eat, on a paper towel. While shopping, look for planting and growing tips on seed packets in the store.
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Sources and Citations
- http://www.wealthitself.com/2008/11/10/how-pbj-saved-me-1296-this-year/ How to Save $1,296 in a Year by Packing Sandwiches for Lunch
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