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February 27, 2009

12 Ways to Save Money on Groceries and Food

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woman with red lipstick pressing a fork to her lips

Photo Credit: Famke Backx/iStockphoto

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1. We won't ask you to set aside your Saturday nights for coupon clipping, but most major supermarket chains will list their weekly sales online, so log on before you do your food shopping. Tweak your menu and shopping list according to what's on sale, or compare the sales at a few different stores, if you have more than one nearby to choose from.

2. Ordering takeout? If you're ordering from a major chain like Domino's, look up promo and coupon codes. Sites likes RetailMeNot.com even sort coupon codes by their success rate, as reported by customers on the site.

3. Replace meat with an extra serving of greens to save some green — go vegetarian for a few meals every week. Stock up on your favorite veggies, and experiment with different recipes and seasonings.

4. A slow cooker can be the most useful kitchen tool for those short on money and time. Throw in ingredients in the morning, and by the time you come home for dinner, you'll have meal ready to eat plus extra portions to freeze for days you don't feel like cooking and can't afford to eat out.

5. Trim your waistline while you pad your wallet — order an appetizer as your main course when you go out to eat. The portion will still likely be more than enough to satisfy, and once you get in the habit, the calories and cash you'll save will really add up.

6. For meals you have every day, like your breakfast yogurt and granola or favorite sandwich for lunch, don't buy prepackaged meals. Make it yourself. Nutrition expert and Registered Dietitian Sharon Richter suggests making sure you buy foods that are in season — they're less expensive and taste better.

7. Sign up for a credit card with rewards points and use the card for monthly expenses that you've budgeted for and are confident you can pay off in full, like groceries and restaurant meals.

8. Sign up for your grocery store's savings card. In some stores, discount prices and sales are only offered to cardholders, so don't lose out — sign up for a savings card and you could be saving a lot of money each time you shop.

9. Buy in bulk — but choose carefully so you don't up throwing away money. Sales are a great time to stock up on basics like pasta and cereal, but rein in the impulse to buy ten cartons of yogurt just because they're buy-one-get-one-free.

10. Save cash and change up your routine by going out for lunch instead of dinner once in a while. Lunch special prices are cheaper than dinner prices, so meet up with your guy for a midday catch-up, or call your friends for a late lunch on the weekend instead of meeting for dinner.

11. Big on baking? Things like chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, and even spices all go on sale around the holidays, so stock up then on these expensive items.

12. If you make frequent small trips to the store to stock up on things like milk and break in between your bigger shopping days, resist the urge to buy more than you can chew by substituting a basket for a grocery cart. You'll be forced to pick and choose what you really need and put down impulse buys.

What recession? Keep your wallet padded with 38 more tips for saving money on clothes shopping, your commute, taxes, and your energy bill.


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