— By KATHY SMITH
There are many ways that you can save money on the food you eat. In the USDA Nutrition Education Series have tips on how you can stretch food dollars.
• Plan. Before you head to the grocery store plan your meals for the week. Include meals such as casseroles, soups and stews that can stretch expensive items into more portions. Also check to see what you have on hand and make a list of what you need to buy.
• Get the best price. Check local newspapers and store ads to see what is on sale. Use sales and coupons to help buy items. Look for specials or sales on meat, which is usually the most expensive item on your list.
• Compare and contrast. Locate the “unit price” on the shelf directly below the product. Use it to compare different brands and different sizes of the same brand to determine which the best buy is.
• Buy in bulk. It is usually cheaper to buy foods in bulk. Good choices are family packs of chicken, steaks and larger bags of potatoes and frozen vegetables. Remember to see if you have enough freezer space before you shop.
• Buy in season. Although we now get almost any food year around it is still better to buy fruits and vegetables in season as they are the freshest and cost less.
• Convenience costs. Go back to the basics. Convenience foods such as frozen dinners, instant rice and such will cost you more than if you make them from scratch. Take the time to prepare your own and save.
• Easy on your wallet. Try beans for a less expensive protein. For vegetables, buy carrots, greens or potatoes. For fruits, apples and bananas are good choices. These types of food are usually inexpensive year around and can save you money.
• Cook once, eat all week. Prepare a large batch of your favorite recipes on your day off (double or triple the recipe). Freeze in individual containers. Use them throughout the week and you won’t have to spend money on take-out meals.
• Be creative. Spice up your leftovers or use them different ways. For example leftover chicken can be made into a stir fry, soup or salad. Remember throwing away food is throwing away your money.
• Eating out. Save money by getting the early bird special, going out for lunch instead of dinner or looking for buy one, get one free or half-price deals. Stick to water instead of ordering a beverage.
Kathy Smith is a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent for Parker County. Contact her at (817) 598-6168 or firstname.lastname@example.org.