Economic improvements continue and so do the trends for economical purchases. Food prices are expected to continue to rise by about another 4% this year. Therefore I suspect as wise consumers we will continue to look for ways to cut costs. Here are a few suggestions to help you shop well, eat well and save a little.
- Plan menus and make a list. I know you have heard this a million times, but really it does help, and then you can post your menu at home so you don’t forget why you bought those roasted red peppers. Also, make your menu based on some of the foods you already have in your pantry to avoid waste.
- Check out the store brands; they have really improved over the years. In fact, store brands are 15 to 20 percent less expensive than their national brand counterparts and the products are usually of similar quality.
- Shop for less processed foods, like plain brown rice versus a seasoned rice mixture. This will save you money and health, as many of those items are loaded with salt. For example, one serving of boil-in-the bag rice is $0.20 compared to regular brown rice which is $0.07 a serving. What I like to do is to have both plain brown rice and a quick form of brown rice in my pantry, but I wait for the quick version to go on sale or for a sale AND a coupon prior to stocking up.
- Speaking of coupons, only use them if they are for things you would already be buying. We all have certain brands that we really like and that is when the coupon comes in handy.
- Shop seasonally to get the best deals. Keep in mind that getting the best deal is not always about more for your money sometimes it is about quality too. For example, four servings of fresh strawberries can be as high as $4.27 while frozen strawberries are $2.40 for the same number of servings. Keep in mind frozen fruits and vegetables are picked and frozen at their peak so the flavor and quality remains high and the price is equally satisfactory as they are packaged while they are plentiful.
- Lean meat is not always the most economical choice. Good sources of lower fat lower cost protein include chicken and turkey (you can remove the skin yourself), tuna fish in water, canned salmon, beans and eggs. Flat iron steak and sirloin are lower fat, lower cost cuts of red meat. When making hamburgers, use ground sirloin, but if you are crumbling meat as in spaghetti sauce, you can purchase regular ground meat and prepare it in such a way as to lower the fat content.
- Regular ground beef (70 to 73% lean) is typically MUCH less expensive than lean ground beef (90% to 93% lean), but contains significantly more fat. To reduce the fat, saturated fat and cholesterol of regular ground beef, drain the fat from the cooked beef and rinse the beef in a clean colander with warm running water, then season and complete your recipe process. A 4-ounce portion of raw regular ground beef will have 155 calories, 9g fat, 4g saturated fat and 46mg cholesterol after the drain and rinse process, which is very similar to lean ground beef.
- Lastly PAY ATTENTION at the check-out. Make sure prices ring up as indicated on the shelf label, especially for sale items. Some stores will even give them to you for free if they make mistake on the price.