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Make the most of your food budget by becoming a Strategic Shopper

By By Staci Cis
Nov. 29, 2010 at 5:29 a.m.
Updated Dec. 7, 2010 at 6:07 a.m.


Do you know you can stretch your family's budget by using effective shopping strategies? Use these strategies to become a smart grocery shopper and save money.

First, set a food budget. The best way to do this is to track how much you actually spend on all the food and drinks you buy. Compare this with your income and other expenses, and create a set amount you will spend on food each week.

Then, make a plan.

1. Plan meals and snacks in advance. Use the food guide pyramid (www.MyPyramid.gov) to help you include foods from all food groups.

2. You don't want to buy something you already have, take inventory.

3. Study grocery ads to see where you can get the best price on items you need.

4. Make a list of everything you need.

Next, be a smart shopper.

1. Plan only one trip to the grocery store a week. The less time spent in the store, the less you spend.

2. Stick to your list.

3. Cut back on foods with little or no nutrition.

4. Use unit pricing to compare large and small packages of the same item. Unit pricing is shown on the shelf label below the food and is noted per ounce or other unit.

5. Look high and low for the best priced items. More expensive items are at eye level.

6. Use convenience foods wisely. The more the food is prepared before you buy it, the more it costs.

7. Stock up on shelf stable bulk items if you can store and eat them before they spoil.

8. Try store brands which may be the same quality as name brands.

Also: Throwing away spoiled food is like throwing money away. Reduce waste by storing leftovers promptly in the refrigerator. Freeze food in air tight containers that you are unable to eat within three days. Use a refrigerator thermometer to insure your refrigerator is the proper temperature.

Eat at home as often as possible. Make dining out a special treat. For great, nutritious recipes you can prepare easily at low cost, visit http://healthyliving.tamu.edu. In the "Dinner Tonight" section, you can watch video demonstrations featuring Texas Agrilife Extension Agents making tasty meals, too.

Stacy Cis is an Extension Assistant for the Texas Agrilife Extension Service in The Better Living for Texans program.

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