Produce. If you’re purchasing bagged fresh vegetables, weigh a few bags, and choose the heaviest. There can be as much as a 3/4 pound difference between two 5-pound bags of potatoes.
Bread. Use day-old bread to make bread crumbs, French toast, croutons, and stuffing. Day-old pound cake is fine to use for a layered fruit trifle dessert.
Beans, rice, and pasta. Beans are known as “poor man’s meat,” but savvy shoppers know that beans are “smart man’s meat,” as well. Dry beans triple in volume when they’re soaked and cooked. A 1-pound bag will make six 1-cup servings. Try different bean varieties to see which taste best to you.
When buying rice, buy plain rice to cook and season yourself. Instant or quick-cooking rice and seasoned rice mixes cost almost three times as much.
Pasta shapes are interchangeable in recipes. Choose the least expensive shape and use it in place of a more expensive variety that has a similar shape and size.
Meats. Minimize the amount of meat in your meals to minimize costs. In most recipes, you can reduce the amount of meat by a quarter without it being missed. Use meat as a complement, not the focus, of your meals several times each week.
Breakfast cereal. Packaging costs money. Buy unsweetened cereal in bags, not boxes.
Snacks. Save 25 cents per serving by using air-popped popcorn kernels rather than the expensive microwave-ready bags. You’ll save not only money but fat and calories as well.
Dairy. Instead of buying single-serving containers of fruited or flavored yogurt, buy a quart of plain yogurt, and separate it into 6- or 8-ounce servings yourself. Add your own fruit for a better buy and more nutrition.
Frozen foods. Vegetables frozen in butter or cream sauce cost twice as much as plain frozen vegetables. Buy bags of plain frozen vegetables and add your own seasonings to save money as well as fat and calories.
At the checkout counter. Take advantage of store savings cards, rebates, and rain checks. Know your store’s policy for pricing mistakes. Often, if a price is entered incorrectly, you will receive the item at no cost!
(To learn about government programs for people eating on a budget, click here.)
Healthy, wealthy, and wise
Benjamin Franklin once said “The art is not in making money, but in keeping it.” In these tough economic times, you need to stay supermarket savvy when facing the combined costs of diabetes and soaring food prices. Let the bargain hunting begin!