Chances are, even in this tight economy, you are wasting food dollars.
What you do every day can be comfortable. But it might not be as budget-minded as possible.
Here are 20 ways to cut food cost that works for every kitchen.
1. Stock your kitchen with easy meals so you are not tempted to eat out. Restaurant meals are part of food cost and they can drive it very high over time.
2. Do not use coupons for items you don’t normally buy or need. This usually applies to fancy cuts of meat, packages of cookies and beverages.
3. Make it once, eat it twice. Making chicken once and serving it a few different ways is always a good idea.
4. Omit the big bubba steak. Use meat sparingly and make the portion size much smaller.
5. Freeze leftovers in portion-sized freezer bags. If you freeze them sooner rather than later you are more apt to use them.
6. Use dried beans a few times a week in place of meat.
7. Watch produce prices and avoid exotics or items that are expensive because they are out of season.
8. Stock up on bulk produce like onions, apples, potatoes and large bags of carrots.
9. Compare produce prices before tossing in the cart: which lettuce is the cheapest? Are the plum tomatoes the least expensive choice?
10. When you see pantry items on sale that you normally buy, stock up. 10 cans of black beans for $10 - that is a good deal.
11. Cut back on junk - soda, cookies, chips and cereal run up the bill quickly. When someone else makes it, the price goes up. Also, consider using oil and vinegar instead of bottled salad dressings.
12. Bulk whole grains are the best buy and include brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat flour and pasta. These are always a better buy than frozen, boxed or canned meals. Although frozen meals are less expensive than restaurant meals if you really don’t cook!
13. Start using smaller plates and serve less. Use a salad plate for the entree and a dinner plate for the salad. Everyone is now a member of the clean plate club because you didn’t serve too much.
14. Clean your refrigerator and freezer more often and use up items that are about to go bad.
15. Buy frozen produce on sale to save time and money. This can also help stretch food shopping days, which saves money.
16. Organic doesn’t bring more nutrients it just brings a higher bill; use sparingly.
17. Your local grocery store and Walmart have better prices than more gourmet or “healthy” stores.
18. The big values at the member stores often just mean a higher bill and more waste. Do you really need a huge box of a variety of chips or would it be better to buy a bag of apples?
19. Buy seafood and poultry on sale and freeze for later use. The bargains are there when you find them, not necessarily when you need them.
20. Focus on emptying your pantry and freezer - chances are there are many things that could be used up in their prime rather than thrown out later on.
Try to stretch your food shopping days so you don’t shop more than once per week. Develop a list of family favorites and make them over and over again for a few weeks then create a new list and repeat.
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.