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Stretching Your Food Dollars

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Marina Shlomov - Sunday, November 15, 2015

The economic problems are in the news every day, but you do not have to turn on the TV or radio to know that it takes more money to buy what you could before. All you have to do is go to the grocery store and see how prices have escalated. By planning, you can shop smarter and stay within your budget. There are many ways to help you get the most from your grocery money and stretch your food dollars to the max.

Plan Before You Leave Home

Sit down and plan menus for several days in advance. This will not only help you when you are in the store, but you will waste less food. It is too easy to buy too much and then not use it. Better yet, you will have everything you need when you are ready to make a meal. It is too easy to stop at the store for a few items and end up not having what you really need. Planning will make a big difference with your budget.

Use Coupons and Advertising Specials

Normally every paper has a supplement with food coupons. Then watch for the food sections that come out with lowered prices on different items – often on Sundays and Wednesdays. Many of the advertising sections follow the coupons that are appearing in the paper or upcoming holiday foods. You can also go online and use many of the coupon websites as well – type “grocery coupons” into your search engine. Many neighborhoods now have coupon groups that trade coupons.

Consider Generic over Name Brand

Many times the name brand and generic products are identical, but generic brands are a bigger savings. You can save sometimes up to 20 or 30%. If there is a name brand you feel is better, then buy it and save on ones that you can buy for less.

Plan a Good Time to Shop

You will not save money if you are in a big hurry, hungry, or tired. It takes time to compare prices and shop for the best savings. It also helps if you can shop alone when you can concentrate without the pressure to buy popular junk food items or handle an impatient child.

Watch What Not to Buy

Sometimes bargains and coupons are not a savings. Avoid buying large quantities that you may never use, will not like, or could possibly expire before you use them. When buying any item, ask yourself if you or your family will really use it.

Supersize ONLY if it Makes Sense

Only buy large quantities of meat or other foods if you have a freezer to store them properly or you are having extra guests. This may be the time to investigate if a freezer will save you money in the long haul. Just be sure it is energy compliant – do not buy an old freezer, it will be costly to your utility bill. Other items, such as bulk paper products (toilet paper, paper towels, etc.) can offer big savings if you do use them.

Buy Food at the Drugstore

Many of the drugstores in your area will run Sunday or Wednesday ads as well. Many of them have programs on line to help you save as well, such as CVS Pharmacy or Walgreens. They even have some free or nearly free items when using coupons. Check your paper or go online - just be sure it is a savings.

Apply Savings When Dining Out

There are many restaurant coupons available now –save your favorites. Then, when you save at the grocery store, you can treat you and your family to a special outing. In addition, you can save by splitting large entrees or get a box to bring home leftovers for another meal.

There are many ways to economize. It just takes some planning and a little time, but it is well worth the savings and it'll help you stretch the food dollars.

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