By KATHY SMITH
Many families are looking for ways to save money on groceries. Planning meals in advance, comparing prices and shopping with a list are helpful ways to save. Also, more people are searching for food bargains at dollar stores.
There are several dollar stores in Parker County. They have a variety of food available and often have some great deals. The key to finding the real bargains, however, is to be prepared and know what you are buying. Otherwise, that bargain may not be a bargain.
These tips can help you get the best food buys for your dollars at the dollar store or any grocery store:
• Know the foods offered at the different dollar stores. Some offer a variety of canned fruits and vegetables. Others feature mainly snack foods that often have little nutritional value. Milk and frozen foods are available at some, but not at others. It is good to visit all of them to compare the products. Find out what food items are kept in stock and how often shipments arrive.
• Don’t be afraid to try brands you don’t know. Many of the dollar stores feature national brands. They also sell regional brands and foods produced in other countries. If the ingredients in the off brand are similar to what is listed on a national brand, it may be worth purchasing the item to see if you or your family will eat it.
• Know your prices. Just because a food is sold at a dollar store doesn’t mean it will be cheaper than at other stores. Stay in touch with food prices by keeping track of the foods you buy the most often. This will help you decide if the item at the dollar store is really a bargain.
• Check the package size. Dollar stores may sell food items in smaller packages compared to traditional grocery stores. The important thing is to know what you are buying.
• Watch the expiration dates. This tip applies to everywhere you buy food. Buying foods that can be eaten before the date stamped on the package so you get the best quality for your money. Do not buy food that is out of date.
• Read food labels so you know what you are buying. Is the canned fruit packed in juice or heavy syrup? Does the coffee creamer have milk or is the main ingredient hydrogenated oil?
Cheap food is not always the most nutritious so be sure to read the list of ingredients on the package.
Source: Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service