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Tips for Cutting Food Costs

May 4th, 2009

cutting-food-costs.jpgNatural disasters such as the floods in Iowa last year can have devastating consequences for the rest of the country with regard to corn production. With reduced yields of corn or other staple crops, not to mention relatively high fuel costs and the creeping effects of inflation, there are likely to be more rises in food costs — especially those that contain corn. Just think about all of the food products that are affected: popcorn, corn on the cob, kernel corn, Fritos, tortilla chips, tacos, tostada shells, corn oil, corn muffins, and cornmeal. Unexpected interruptions in the supply of even one major food crop such as this can lead to significant increases in overall food prices, so you may be looking for cheap meal ideas or other ways to cut food costs.

Following these tips can save not only your food, but also the contents of your wallet and bank account.

1. Start being proactive by stocking up on your favorite food items now. Pay particular attention to items that are non-perishable or have a longer expiration date.

2. Take advantage of supermarket sales when they occur, and buy in bulk when it comes to things like canned goods that can be stored for long periods of time.

3. Make the food you have last longer. You’ve probably seen the commercials for Debbie Meyer’s Green Bags and thought it was an annoying infomercial, but these little bags could actually make produce last twice as long, which will be a big help when trying to save money.

4. Grow your own food. Not only does this save money, but you know it’s fresh if you grow it in your own garden. If you don’t have a backyard don’t worry, you can buy windowsill plants that will produce herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Growing your own food is a great activity that everyone in the household can participate in, and it will encourage you to eat more healthily.

5. Share. If you dine out at a restaurant you’ll know that the portion sizes are extremely large in America, so consider ordering one dish and sharing it.

6. Eat the leftovers. Knowing the portion sizes are going to be large when you eat out means you can plan ahead. Order something that you can easily reheat and have for dinner the next day.

7. Eat like a kid. Restaurants often have a children’s menu that has smaller portion sizes, but it doesn’t hurt to ask the waiter if you can order from the children’s menu. If they won’t let you, then ask for a half portion from the adult menu. It will save you money and you won’t be tempted to eat more than you should.

8. Don’t buy food that you have no intention of eating just because it’s on sale. Only buy what you and your family members actually eat.

9. Freeze items that you purchased on sale but can’t eat right away. Bread, meat, chicken, fish, fruit, and vegetables can all be frozen.

10. Most restaurants have a lunch menu where the prices are cheaper than their dinner menu. If you do eat out, try going at lunch time and take advantage of the specials.

11. Pack not only your children’s lunch but your lunch as well. You’d be surprised at how expensive dining at the office cafeteria can get on a weekly basis. You’ll save money, and it will give you an opportunity to use the entire loaf of bread instead of throwing away half like most families do. 

12. Bring your leftovers to work. There’s no reason that you have to throw away any dinner leftovers.  Simply place them in a microwavable container and bring them to work for lunch the next day.  

13.  Instead of being tempted by expensive, high calorie snacks, try bringing nuts, dried fruit, or other healthy treats to work. These items can be purchased in bulk and packed easily in sandwich bags. That way you won’t be paying more than you should, and you’ll be in charge of what you eat instead of choosing from the limited selection from the vending machine.

Saving money is easier than you think; you just need to be diligent and make a special effort not to waste food.


Bobbi Leder is a freelance writer who holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Media from Rutgers University. She has been published on LifeScript, Associated Content, eHow, Story Mash, Helium, Atlantic Publishing, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Theatre Monkey, London Eating, and Trip Advisor. She is also a contributing writer for the The Banner, a newspaper based in Houston, Texas.


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