Ways to Save Money on Your Food Bill

by Barbara Chaney


  1. Plan your meals and snacks ahead.

  2. Make a grocery list before you shop.

  3. Buy only what is on your list but be prepared to make substitutions.

  4. Don't shop on an empty stomach! You'll be tempted to buy more than you need.

  5. Try not to shop with children who will nag you for toys and junk food.

  6. Check the advertised specials for bargains. Check comparable brands and prices to be sure you are getting a bargain.

  7. Private label merchandise is usually cheaper than national brands, but check to make sure.

  8. Use "money-off" coupons only if they are for things you need.

  9. Buy only what you have enough room to store.

  10. You pay more for fancy packaging. Beware!

  11. You pay more for convenience. Save money by doing your own cutting, slicing, grating, mixing, seasoning, cooking.

  12. If your children demand costly junk foods advertised on TV tell them "no." Help them understand the purpose of commercials is to sell and many of them take advantage of small children. Evaluate the commercial with your child.

  13. It's cheaper to make your own soups.

  14. Plan to drink water. It's the cheapest thirst-quencher there is. Leave the overpriced, sugar-laden sodas and fruit drinks on the supermarket shelves.

  15. Buy real fruit juices. Imitation fruit "drinks" and "ades" are loaded with sugar, artificial flavorings and colorings, and some vitamin C thrown in to make them more like the real thing. Don't waste your money on them.

  16. Meat is a good source of protein but it's expensive. Cheese, poultry, eggs, peanut butter, dried peas, beans, lentils, and some fish are less expensive and excellent sources of protein.

  17. Luncheon meats, hot dogs, bologna and bacon are high in fat and low in protein - poor buys for your money.

  18. Use chicken necks and backs to make soup and broth. Cut cooked meat from the bones and add to the soup.

  19. If you buy beef, buy lean beef. Buy by the number of servings per pound. Meat with bone is less expensive per pound than deboned meat but you may be paying a high price for bone and unwanted fat.

  20. Stretch your meat by having lean meat ground. Use oatmeal as an extender. Flavor with herbs.

  21. Vegetables and noodle casseroles with meat are budget helpers.

  22. Buy beef liver instead of calves' liver. It's a better buy for the money.

  23. Buy whole chickens. If you want only breasts, save the dark quarters, freezing for later use. Buying breasts alone is very expensive.

  24. Turkey offers better value than chicken. Larger turkeys are more economical than smaller ones because they have a higher proportion of meat to bone. Freeze leftover turkey for use in sandwiches and casseroles later.

  25. Chicken livers are good broiled, folded into omelets, or chopped and made into a spread.

  26. Shop for the cheapest fish --whiting, mackerel, flounder, haddock, pollack. Smelts are usually much less expensive than salmon, halibut or sole.

  27. Buy fruits and vegetables fresh at the peak of their seasons; buy canned or frozen at other times.

  28. Raise herbs as house plants.

  29. Buy locally grown foods; they are fresher, more nutritious and ecologically smart.

  30. Frozen vegetables in special sauces are expensive. Buy plain, frozen or canned vegetables and add your own seasonings or sauces. It's much cheaper.

  31. Potatoes are cheap only if you prepare them from fresh. They taste much better than the instant, frozen, dried, or processed ones.

  32. Experiment with vegetable main course, e.g., eggplant Parmigiana, spinach flan.

  33. Dark leafy green vegetables and deep yellow vegetables are generally highest in nutritional return. Use spinach or whatever other greens are available at a low cost for green salads.

  34. Eat more raw fruits and vegetables. They are nutritious, delicious and energy savers.

  35. Learn to make omelets. They are economical, good sources of protein and you combine all kinds of leftovers into them.

  36. When buying eggs check to see that none is broken.

  37. Buy both small and large eggs. Use the small eggs when you need small amounts such as for dipping one or two slices of french toast.

  38. Check number of slices and weight when comparing packaged cheese to see which brand offers best value.

  39. Always check the expiration date on dairy products.

  40. Carry lunch to work. Eating in restaurants is expensive.

  41. Save on fuel by cooking several things in the oven at the same time.

  42. Salad dressing, gravies and sauces are cheaper if you make your own.

  43. Make your own bread; use whole grains - wheat, rice, oats or corn. Mix the grains for added interest.

  44. Make your own bread crumbs from leftover bread and crusts.

  45. Most TV dinner are extremely expensive for the little portion of meat you get in them.

  46. Avoid cakes, pastries, cookies, and candies that are expensive to buy and have a very low nutritional return. Buy them only as a treat on very special occasions.

  47. If anything you buy is spoiled, return it.

  48. Paper products can run up your "food" bill. Use cloth towels and launder them often. Use covered jars to store food in the refrigerator instead of foil or plastic wrap. Cut down on the use of foil lining for roasting pan and broilers.

Revised October, 1996. Adapted from Nutrition Services (September, 1978), Montgomery County Health Department, Rockville, Maryland. Equal Opportunity Programs

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