Posts Tagged ‘spending’

If you have been paying attention to the news recently you have probably heard or read that food prices for the rest of 2012 and 2013 are expected to rise 2.5 to 3.5%. This proposed increase is due to the impact of the severe drought on grain product foods and the grain fed to the animals. While that increase may not sound like much, if you look a little closer, the average costs of food over the last 10 years have increased about 38%, during the same time that many families have faced a recession. I know each of you could probably write a list of ways to save money on food, but here are a few of the best.

  • Planning meals ahead and using a list at the store are still the most important! You save money by purchasing foods on sale when you shop the ads.  Check your cupboards first; don’t buy food you don’t need.   By using these tips, you save gas and time by making one trip instead of three. That one trip also saves the cost of the impulse buys, usually snack foods you don’t need or for me a paperback book or recipe magazine. I like to keep a grocery list on the refrigerator to aid in planning my shopping needs.   One rule of thumb in our house is . . . when you use the last of an item, write it on the list.   Or you can use Let’s Move grocery list template available at http://www.letsmove.gov/sites/letsmove.gov/files/Grocery_List.pdf. Watch your trips to the big box stores – the larger package isn’t always the cheaper one – a calculator can make the math easier when figuring price per pound or ounce. Use coupons if they are for foods you regularly purchase and that will get eaten. Signing up for an email coupon club may be a good idea if your store accepts this style of coupon, not all do. When shopping and planning, keep in mind that you may be able to switch out a similar food in a recipe for less money. A recent example for me was a recipe that called for canned tomatoes and a package of dry spaghetti sauce mix – those 2 items cost over $1.30 – but I could buy a larger can of spaghetti sauce for less than a dollar.
  • Remember that healthy foods don’t necessarily cost more! When you decide to make healthier food choices you can cut out the cost of some empty calorie foods like soda, cookies or baked goods, chips, and many crackers.   Spending less on empty calories foods eases your budget, allowing you to purchase more fresh foods.
  • Use that refillable water bottle and make your own iced tea at home! A couple dollars a week for bottled water or $1 every day for iced tea (or even more for coffee or a latte) really does add up.
  • Be creative with left-overs or cooking foods that can be used in more than one way. Can left-over soup or pasta be heated and taken in an insulated container for lunch the next day? My daughter loves it when I heat up left-over chicken Alfredo for her the next day. I boil water to place in the insulated container to get it hot before putting in the heated food. It is also good to think about foods that can be used a couple different ways; can you put left-over chicken on pizza or add it to soup, use chili as a potato topper, or make individual pizzas with the last couple tortillas in the package? Almost anything can be put in a wrap or on a pizza – let your children help you experiment. Think about making extra of things like pancakes or waffles, instead of buying the pre-frozen package. Make a big batch on the weekend and freeze packages of 1 or 2 that can be heated in the toaster or toaster oven for a quick breakfast.
  • Think about your proteins, can you do a vegetarian dish or cut the amount of meat in a recipe? Adding black beans to ground beef or turkey in a recipe will allow you to use less meat, while increasing the amount of fiber. The same applies to other recipes such as soups or many of the Mexican inspired dishes – adding black beans, navy beans, or other beans, costs less than purchases at the meat counter.  Rinse beans to cut down on sodium.   Eggs can also be a good value. When was the last time you put a hard-cooked egg on your salad or had egg salad sandwiches?  Hard cook a couple of eggs at a time, you can eat them for breakfast or they pack easily for lunch.

Don’t forget to share your money-saving tips with friends and family members.

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ross & Vinton Counties, Ohio Valley EERA, http://ross.osu.edu/.

Reviewed by: Cynthia Shuster and Kathryn Green, OSU Extension Educators, Family & Consumer Sciences.


USDA Economic Research Service: http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-price-outlook/summary-findings.aspx.

USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/FoodPlans/2012/CostofFoodJun2012.pdf.

Alabama Cooperative Extension System, 101+ Ways to Save Food Dollars, Barbara Struempler, http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/H/HE-0757/HE-0757.pdf.

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As we begin a new year, it is a great time to think about your food budget and ways to eat better on a budget. There are many ways you can save money on the foods you eat. Here are a few tips to help you get the most for your food budget!

  1. Plan!

Before heading out the door to the grocery store, plan your meals for the week. Check to see what foods you already have and make a list for what you need to buy.

2.Get the best price.

Be sure to check the local papers, online and at the store for sales and coupons. Ask about a loyalty card for extra savings when you shop.

3. Compare and Contrast.

Locate the Unit Price on the shelf directly below the product. Use the Unit Price to compare different brands and different sizes of the same brand to determine which is more economical.

4. Go easy on the wallet! 

Certain foods are typically low-cost options all year round. Try beans for a less expensive protein food. For vegetables, buy carrots, greens or potatoes. As for fruits apples and bananas are good economical choices.

5. Cook Once. But eat all week!

I love to cook just once by preparing a large batch of recipes on the weekend and maybe even double or triple the recipe. Then I freeze in individual containers. These are great to use throughout the week and then you do not have to spend money on take –out meals.

6. Spice up your leftovers!

Use your leftovers in new ways.  Try leftover chicken in stir fry, in a tortilla wrap, in a garden salad or make a garden chili. Remember, throwing away food is throwing away money$$$$.

7. Eating out- Use Caution

Eating out can be very costly. You can save money by getting the early bird specials, going out for lunch instead of dinner or looking at the “2 for 1” deals or using a restaurant coupon. Stick to water instead of ordering other beverages, this can reduce to cost of the bill.

Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

Source: USDA, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, DG TipSheet No. 16, December 2011

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During these times of high food prices, you might be asking yourself “What can I do to save money?” A smart spending plan at the grocery store is one way to make ends meet. Below are some specific money-saving ideas to consider:
Know How Much You’re Spending– When you spend $60 at the supermarket one week and $100 the next, you may not realize that your monthly grocery bill is one of your biggest expenses. Save your receipts and analyze them – you will be amazed at how much you spend on groceries and how much you can save by shopping more carefully. Take the time to create a food budget and follow it.
Plan Every Shopping Outing- Experts say that planning meals in advance and making detailed shopping lists can cut your grocery spending by 20 percent or more. Check your pantry before you go shopping to be sure of what you need. Review store flyers and build your list around what’s on sale and the best coupon deals.
Stick to Your List- Grocery stores are designed to entice you to buy more with irresistible marketing. By sticking to a list, you will only purchase what you need and “get in and get out” of the store quickly.
Do Not Shop on an Empty Stomach- If you go to a supermarket hungry, you will most likely purchase more food than you need, including expensive items as well.
Beware of End Caps- Food items on aisle “end caps” are often attractively displayed to entice shoppers to make additional purchases; these displays are not always a shopper’s bargain.
Look Up, Look Down- Items on the upper and lower shelves are often cheaper. Big brands often pay big bucks to have their products at eye level.
Cook Once, Eat Twice- Plan meals with recipes that can be doubled easily. Serve one and label and freeze the other for a later date. Often it doesn’t cost much more to make a double recipe. Use this same food for lunch to reduce spending excess dollars on lunch.
Consider Eating Less Meat- Make at least one or two meatless meals each week.
Cruise Through Your Fridge Daily- Check foods on hand to plan to use them before they go bad.
Watch the Cash Register- Checkout errors can be costly. Use supermarket discount cards to save.
Don’t Pay Interest on Food Bought on Credit Cards- This only increases the cost of food even more.
While you can’t control the cost of fuel or food, if you manage your food dollars wisely, you will have more money in your wallet at the end of the month.

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Gifts from the Heart

Holiday spending can put a strain on the wallet.  It may be Valentine’s Day, a birthday or any other special day.  If you are living on a fixed income, you cannot possibly give your children, spouse or special friend everything they want.  But you can make it a special day by giving more of yourself, and your time.  Think of thoughtful gifts that do not have to cost a lot in money but are truly given from the heart.

As an alternative to purchasing  a gift, consider giving a gift of items that you already have and give gifts from your heart.  Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Consider giving a special piece of jewelry or glassware that a daughter or granddaughter admires.
  • A start from a plant that a friend would like to have.  Buy a pretty pot and give this new plant to your friend. 
  • Do you make jams and jellies or other canned items that friends and relatives would like?  Make decorative jar toppers and give canned items as gifts. 
  • Old photos that relatives would like to have.  Make copies and put into an album as a birthday gift.  

Don’t think your have to break the bank a gift from the heart can be the most treasured gift to receive. 

Author:  Linnette Mizer Goard, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.


University of Minnesota Extension Service. (2004)  Plan ahead for holiday spending.  Retrieved August 11, 2005 from the World Wide Web:  http://www.extension.umn.edu/extensionnews/2004/holiday.html

 Colorado State University Cooperative Extension.  (2004)  Save on holiday spending.  Retrieved August 11, 2005 from the World Wide Web:  http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/columnym/ym286.html

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