Monday, September 14, 2009

Cutting the Cost of Food in a Crisis

Unexpected things happen occasionally in our lives that can throw us off like a pay cut or an unexpected bill. We may not have extra money in the budget to pay for it and we feel financially stressed. The grocery bill is one area that we can cut back in so we can free up money for other areas. There are some things we can do to cut costs.

  1. Buy store brands. They may not taste as good or look as appetizing, but they are usually cheaper and the difference in cost can add up. You may also have to choose cheaper alternatives such as vegetable oil instead of canola oil, margarine instead of butter and imitation vanilla instead of real. You may have to give up your favorite cookies or crackers for a cheaper alternative. Realize that the goal is to feed you well balanced meals and save money. You will have to make some sacrifices, but you can still achieve the goal.
  2. Cook by scratch. The time you spend in the kitchen making your own bread, tortillas, muffins, and meals will help to provide you and/or your family with nutritious meals that will taste good and cost less. Most people don’t want to eat oatmeal or peanut butter sandwiches every day, and would probably feel deprived if they did which would make it less likely that they will stick to the goal of eating for less. When food tastes good, and you have a lot of variety, people are happier. Why not enjoy your food more and save money in the process?
  3. Shop sales. To maximize the amount of food you can purchase for the money you have, it is good to buy sale items each week that are lost leaders. Lost leaders are items that are greatly reduced to lure you into the store. Plan your menus around items that are on sale. Shopping carefully can provide a way to purchase twice as much food or more for the same money. Make a very detailed list and stick to it. Don’t go buy things on impulse.
  4. 4. If you have limited funds, it may be wise to use the bulk food section in you local store. Foods they may cost more per pound at times, but you can buy limited amounts and only get what you need. For example, if you are making refried beans and want some cumin, you can purchase a teaspoon in the bulk food section for cents instead of spend a few dollars for a whole bottle.
  5. 5. If you want to spend less on food long term, then buy things on sale and stock up. It will take a few months to get a good variety, but when you buy this way, you are buying your groceries at the lowest cost all the time instead of having to pay whatever the price is when you need something. For example, if you find butter on sale for 99 cents, buy it even though you may not need it at the time. You don’t want to wait until you need butter and then have to pay 3.50 for the same size package. Your pantry will be like your own personal store. When you eat what is on sale, and stock up what is on sale, then you can eat your regular items but only pay about half the price to do so.
  6. Take advantage of local store markdowns. I found milk for 59 cents for a gallon once, and name brand yogurt for 8 cents each, and bananas for 10 cents a pound. Ask the grocery workers when they do their markdowns, and plan your trips around those times. There are wonderful bargains out there if you take the time to find out about them.

Prices are going up, so it is wise to do all we can to save money by buying things at their lowest price. When we free up money we normally spend on groceries, we can use it to pay unexpected bills or put in savings for a rainy day in the future.

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