Making sense, saving money

Trimming the fat off your food budget while being healthy at the same time.

Did you know an average of one-third of a household’s budget is spent on food? This makes saving food dollars very impactful.

Many folks are familiar with the phrase, “Come on down…The price is right!” from the long running television game show The Price is Right, but saving money at the store is no game – there are real skills and strategies you can use to stay on budget.

Adapted from Share Our Strength Cooking Matters curriculum, Michigan State University Extension suggests:

1) Shop the perimeter of the store: The most nutritious foods including fresh produce, dairy products, eggs, juice and fresh breads are most often displayed around the outer edges of store layouts.

2) Coupons are not always a savings over the store brand price. Coupons can save you money if you normally buy that specific product at its regular price.

3) Be aware of product placement. More expensive items are typically placed at eye-level, so you are wise to look high and low for comparable items.

4) Buying in bulk is not always a saving. It is important to check the unit price typically found on a sticker/tag of the store shelf, or calculate by dividing the price amount by the number of ounces in the single item. Also, it is important to consider how quickly the item will be used and the shelf life of the item.

A chance to practice:

Example 1

  • An 11.5 ounce can of 100 percent juice concentrate for $1.99 = Four cents per ounce
  • A package of eight, 6.75 ounce 100 percent juice boxes for $3.99 = Seven cents per ounce
  • A 64 ounce bottle of 100 percent juice for $2.99 = Five cents per ounce

Example 2

  • A 24 ounce canister of raisins for $3.99 = 16 cent per ounce
  • A 15 ounce canister of raisins for $2.99 = 19 cents per ounce
  • A snack pack of six, 1.5 ounce boxes for $2.29 = 25 cents per ounce

5) Shopping at grocery stores or supermarkets offer the best prices for food. Neighborhood markets and convenience stores often have added cost and less selection of brands.

6) Frozen, canned or fresh fruits and vegetables depend on the season but all forms count toward daily guidelines and contain important vitamins and minerals. Compare costs of types and beware of added sugar or salt.

7) Shop with a list: This will help you to avoid impulse buys, stick to your budget, and spend less time at the store and account for what you have on hand.

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