With food costs going up at an alarming rate, some foods such as rice are already being rationed in parts of the country. There is no relief in sight as food inflation continues to rise at 4.5% per year.
That means your eggs have already gone up 30 % in the last year, and your milk, cheese, flour, bananas and even peanut butter will be more expensive to buy. All that comes on top of rising gas prices, which are predicted to double in the next four years. In spite of all that bad news, can you still be in control of how far your food dollars stretch? You can start saving money today with these simple, easy to follow tips. 1. Learn the secret food codes Bread companies have their own codes for when bread is baked and delivered. Each company is different, but the general code is alphabetical.
Monday-blue, Tuesday- green, Thursday- red, Friday-white, Saturday- yellow. Learn the codes, and look toward the back of the shelf to find the freshest loaves. 2. Do most of your cooking ahead of time This saves time as well because you are more organized. Freeze the food and bring it out for individual meals as your family needs them.
You can also give them more variety and choices. If someone would rather have spaghetti instead of a casserole, for example, they can warm up an individual serving. A deep freeze will more than pay for itself. 3. Get out of the grocery store as quickly as possible Buy only what you need and leave. The longer you stay, the more you will buy and the store knows that.
That's why your store's layout may not always make sense to you. They want you to wander around and yield to temptation to buy more than you need. Always ask yourself if you really need that gallon of "Death by Chocolate" ice cream just because it's on sale. Those extra impulse dollars can add up fast. 4.
Never shop when you're hungry Always eat first before you go to the store. The hungrier you are the more you will spend, and your spending will get out of control. 5.
Always check label dates You may be surprised at how much difference in food freshness you will find on one shelf. For example, prepared salad fixings can vary by several days. Again, look toward the bottom of the shelf. That's where they will put the latest deliveries. Get in the habit of rummaging through.
You'll be richly rewarded for the effort. 6. Go for bulk Join a warehouse club like Sam's Club(Walmart) or Costco.
If you don't want to pay for a membership by yourself, go in with a friend and shop together. Buy the stable items only such as canned vegetables, coffee, rice, spaghetti sauce, mayonnaise. These will be the items you use most often and they are the foundation of your pantry. Stay away from the bakery and free food sample give-aways, although some people have been known to eat lunch going from counter to counter.
7. Do most of your shopping in one trip A Sam's or Costco is perfect for a full morning of shopping. Get it all done at once. This helps you stick to your inventory and budget because it eliminates unnecessary trips to the grocery store. Tuesday's are the absolute best day for shopping if you want to avoid crowds and get individual attention from the sales staff. I quickly discovered this to be true while working in retail.
) The one trip shopping days will also help you save on gas, and you can even fill up your tank at Sam's. 8. Don't buy individually packaged foods Don't guy grated cheese, or individually packaged cheese slices. These cost more. Grate your own cheese and stay away from the cute convenient packaging, especially for snack foods that appeal to children.
Also avoid vending machines at work. If you want a soft drink, take your own. You can also buy those in bulk at a warehouse store. 9.
Don't buy as many snacks Fix your own, because this is where food companies really come in for the kill. Many of today's snacks are full of salt, sugar, and high fat. They are bad for you anyway, but cutting down on them may help you cut down on your medical bills later. Substitute muffins, fruits, and homemade cookies instead if you have to have snacks. 10.Eat less meat Needless to say, meat can be very expensive, especially if you buy meat with big bones.
Stick to the lean meats and watch for the sales. Also you can save by buying frozen chicken in bulk. Dried beans or legumes can be substituted for meat and you can fix tasty recipes using them that your family will love. 11. Learn when your grocery store brings out the best specials Every store is different, but they all have the same problem of how to sell day old bakery items and bread.
Also, ask for ripened produce that will be cheaper. Make friends of the staff and learn when they first mark everything down and get to the head of the line. Even if food inflation seems out of control there are many ways you can still stop up huge holes in your budget, eat well, and keep more of your hard-earned money.
Alice Stevens writes about issues concerning the elderly and their caregivers for the blog Aging Parents Authority. http://www.agingparentsauthority.com