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Extension Agent: Spending less, getting more at grocery store

By By Brenda Phipps
Jan. 29, 2013 at midnight
Updated Jan. 28, 2013 at 7:29 p.m.

Brenda Phipps

Have you noticed the change in costs of foods lately? Almost everything, from meat to milk to fresh produce, has gone up at least 10 cents or more in the last couple of years. Many people have less money to spend right now because of a job loss and rising living expenses.

One way to reduce your food costs is to plan meals in advance. Start by looking at what you already have in your pantry. We all have a few cans lurking in the back that we have forgotten about. Rotate older foods forward so that you can use them before they expire or before the taste and quality changes.

Remember, food you have on hand is money that cannot be used for anything else. Try to plan meals and snacks for a week or longer, using what you already have in your pantry.

Another way to reduce your grocery bill is to make a shopping list. Research has shown that when a person goes shopping for food, they usually spend more than $2 per minute. Taking the time to make a list before heading to the store can save you time and money when you get there. Having a list and knowing exactly what you need will cut down on your time spent in the store.

Make an initial list of what you need and then rewrite it, putting the items in the order in which you will come to them in the store. If you shop at the same store every time, then you know the layout of the store and how you usually make your trip around it, so it should be easy to put the items you need in order. This way, there is less chance of forgetting something and less chance to pick up "extras" that look tempting but that you really do not need.

One more way to save some money at the grocery store is to use coupons and sales ads. Use coupons when foods are on sale to save even more. Keep in mind that store brands may still be better buys even after using coupons for the name brands. Some stores even accept their store coupon along with a manufacturer coupon - just ask a cashier at your favorite store.

Remember to shop alone (no children or spouse) if possible, so you can focus on just getting what you need and do not go to the store hungry, when you will be tempted to buy foods that are not on your list.

Speaking of learning how to plan meals in advance, "Cooking Well With Diabetes" classes begin Feb. 5 at the Pattie Dodson Health Center, at the corner of Airline Road and Navarro Street, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. This course complements the "Do Well Be Well with Diabetes" self-care and nutrition series offered by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.

For more information or to register for this free workshop series that runs Tuesdays, Feb. 5, 12, 19 and March 5, contact Tricia at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension-Victoria County Office at 361-575-4581.

Resource: Back to Basics series curricula from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Better Living for Texans program

Brenda Phipps is a Victoria County extension assistant.

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