On the Money with Food

Do the poor economy and ballooning grocery prices have you ready to forgo food? While you can't change the economy, you can save money on your grocery bills.

"One way to save is by using basic buying strategies that apply to everyone," says George Barany, director of financial education for the Consumer Federation of America, Washington, D.C., and for the Youth Saves program at America Saves.

Try these grocery shopping strategies:

  • Compare unit price — Take note of the price per pound or ounce for a particular food.

  • Check out what's on sale — Make sure to be flexible with your recipes.

  • Clip coupons — Coupons can save you up to $25 a month when used on groceries.

  • Shop multiple stores — Prices vary from store to store, so you can save by shopping at two or three.

  • Shop local — Farmers markets are a great way to save money, buy fresh food, and, well, meet the farmers.

  • Plan your trips to the store — If you shop for groceries once a week with a list, you'll most likely spend less time and money.

  • Be wary of bulk buys — If you buy too much, your "savings" will end up in the garbage. If you do purchase larger quantities of meat—such as hamburger or chicken—divide into portions needed for meals and freeze.

And, if you like to eat out, you can keep that cost down as well.

"To keep the price low, split an entrée, have an appetizer and salad, and order very little or no alcohol," says Barany. "You can also watch for weekly specials at restaurants."

Keep in mind, no matter how you purchase food, if you have a plan and spend a little time comparing prices and making lists, you can save money. "Like so many things, the more thought you put in, the better your results," says Barany. "If you think, you'll be more satisfied and spend less."

 

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