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How to Spend Less on Groceries

Do you often find yourself spending more than you want every week on groceries? Or do you hesitate living a healthier lifestyle due to the price of "healthy" foods? There is a common misconception that eating healthier costs more.

Follow these suggestions on how to reduce your grocery cost yet still choose healthy options:

  • Small expenses add up. Think about all of the little things you buy here and there — coffee, soda, movie tickets, snacks while you're shopping, etc. These minimal costs don't seem to matter much in the moment. But over time, they add up. If you spend $2 a day on random items, you're spending over $700 a year on those random items.
  • Track how much you spend per month. For one month, save every receipt and bank statement. Keep the totals on a spreadsheet or in a small notebook. At the end of the month, add everything up. What surprises you? Did you spend more than you thought you would? Do you need to eat out as much as you do? Or do the recipes that you choose contain ingredients that are too expensive?
  • Don't shop when you're hungry. You'll stray off your list if you shop when you're hungry. Shop earlier in the mornings when the store isn't as crowded. Leave family at home if they tend to distract you.
  • Shop at just one store. Try to shop at one nearby store with reasonable prices. It takes time to go to different stores. You can save more money by making a menu and a list, and sticking to it, rather than shopping at several stores. Warehouse stores are less expensive, but tempting to buy bulk packages of things you don't need just because they're cheap.
  • Consider all forms of fruits and vegetables. Buy fruits and vegetables in season, and freeze the extras. Choose smaller bags of apples and oranges and avoid pre-cut fruit, which is almost always more expensive. When buying canned produce, be sure to choose the "no salt added" version. When choosing frozen vegetables, make sure to check the label for sodium content.
  • Eat more beans and smaller portions of meat. One of the cheapest sources of protein is beans. Dried or canned beans are great meal substitutes and provide fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. Dried beans are dirt cheap but take more planning (soaking, cooking, and storing). Canned beans are higher in sodium, but it is easy to find "no salt added" canned beans now. When buying meat, stick to a smaller portion: about three ounces per serving.

Executive Chef Craig FordKitchen Tip of the Month

No buttermilk? You can use buttermilk powder prepared according to package directions. Or make "sour milk": ratio is 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup milk.