Smart Shopping: 25 Ways to Slash Your Grocery Bills

No doubt about it, convenience foods save you time. But – and it’s a big but – convenience foods don’t save you money. If you rely on frozen dinners, helper foods, kits and take-out you are spending too much money on food. These tips will help you lower your bills and eat healthy, flavorful meals.

1. Plan meals by the week.

2. Make a grocery list, grouping foods by category. (Meat, dairy, produce, etc.)

3. Only buy what is on your list. Don’t succumb to impulse buying or kids’ demands for products hyped on TV.

4. Shop at stores that have the most specials.

5. Use coupons for healthy foods only. Don’t buy a product just because you have a coupon.

6. Roll your cart past “helper,” “partner,” “bakes” and “kits.” These products are over-priced, over-salted, and you can’t even pronounce some of the ingredients.

7. Mix up your own rubs. They take only minutes to make and you can customize them to your tastes.

8. Buy store and less-known brands, often made by top manufacturers.

9. Buy lean hamburger. It is better for you and there is less waste.

9. Drink water instead of pricey soda pop, which is often loaded with sugar and erodes your teeth.

10. Make your own salad dressing. You’ll save a bundle!

11. Make your own granola. Lots of recipes are posted on the Internet and kids will enjoy helping you.

12. Eat boxed hot cereal, not the kind in packets.

13. Buy day-old bread and coffee cake. The bread is perfect for French toast and grilled sandwiches. Stale coffee cake makes some of the best bread pudding you will ever taste.

14. Stores put pricey foods – the foods they want to push – at eye level. Bend down and look on the bottom shelves for bargains.

15. Learn how to cut up a whole chicken.

16. Eat seasonal fruits and vegetables.

17. Buy staples in bulk.

18. Make your own pudding. You will get twice as much for your money.

19. Buy a refrigerated or prepared crust and make your favorite pizza.

20. Use meat for flavor, as in stir-fry, instead of making it the feature of the meal.

21. Maximize leftovers. Make cream sauce for a little left over spinach. Use leftover vegetables in soup.

22. Put leftovers in sturdy plastic zipper bags to prevent freezer burn and waste. Label and date the bags.

23. Turn old bread into new, delicious croutons. Cut the bread into cubes, drizzle it with olive oil, sprinkle with garlic powder, oregano and basil. Bake in a 350 degree oven until crispy.

24. Make your own baking mix and store in a tightly covered jar. (Recipes are posted on the Internet.)

25. Involve kids and grandkids. The involved kids of today will turn into smart shoppers tomorrow.

Copyright 2006 by Harriet Hodgson