Tips for Saving Money on Food


Food prices are rising, but there are ways to save money on your grocery bill.

Before you toss perishable food into your grocery cart,think about exactly how you'll use it. The Environmental Protection Agencyestimates that Americans generate roughly 30 million tons of food waste eachyear.

Using leftover vegetables, poultry, or meat in soups, stews, salads, andcasseroles minimizes cost and demonstrates your creativity in the kitchen. Forexample, have a roasted chicken for dinner one night and use the leftovers fordinner the next night.

Try topping a bed of fresh greens with vegetables,fruits, and slices of leftover chicken. Add a loaf of whole-grain bread, andpresto! You've got a nutritious meal in minutes. You can also eat leftovers forbreakfast or take them with you for lunch.

Go Generic

Consider buying store brands instead of pricier nationalbrands. "All food manufacturers follow standards to provide safe food andbeverage products of high quality," says Robert Earl, director ofnutrition policy for the Grocery Manufacturer Association.

Many grocerycompanies buy national-brand products made to their specifications and simplyput their own label on the products. Read the ingredient list on the label tobe sure you're getting the most for your money.

Ingredients are listed in order by weight. So when you'rebuying canned tomatoes, look for a product that lists tomatoes, not water, asthe first ingredient. Also look for simpler versions of your favorite foods.For example, buy oatmeal or simple flaked or puffed cereals that contain feweradditives and are less expensive (and often healthier) than fancier cereals.

Buy and Cook InBulk

Joining a bulk shopping club like Sam's, Costco, or BJ'scan be cost-effective if you frequent the club regularly. Bulk purchases can bea great way to save money -- as long as they get used.

You might also look inyour community for shopping cooperatives that sell food in bulk at asubstantial savings. Cooking in bulk can save both money and time, saysTallmadge. "Prepare food in bulk and freeze it in family-sized portions,which saves time in the kitchen," she suggests.

For example, making a big batch of tomato sauce will beless expensive (and probably tastier) than buying. Use sales and coupons to plan meals around what's on sale. Just make sure they're for items you would buy anyway.

Sunday newspapers are full of coupons and sales circulars to get you started.It's also a good idea to stock up on staples when they're on sale. "Buyone, get one free" is basically a technique to get you to buy twice asmuch as you need at half the price. At some markets, though, the product ringsup half-price -- so you don't have to buy more than one to get the savings.

Useyour freezer to store sale items that can be used at a later date.