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Save Unexpectedly on Your Groceries

Save Unexpectedly on Your Groceries

USA Today

November 11, 2009

Home-cooked meals and grocery coupon clipping have become the cost-cutting ways of the recession. Still, many of us are still spending money we don’t need to at the store.

There are ways to make food shopping a less expensive — but still healthy — trip every time. You just need to plan ahead, make a list and avoid some common missteps in the grocery aisles. And eat first! We all know how a growling stomach can lead to pricey choices that also aren’t the most nutritious ones.

Eighty-five percent of consumers now say they’re eating a home-cooked meal three or more times a week, up from 75% in 2006, according to a new study out Sunday from the Food Marketing Institute, which represents grocery stores. Google reports searches for “recipes” began far outpacing the rest of the “food and drink” category starting last September.

If you’re trying to cut some fat out of your food budget, there are a few key areas in which to do it, many involving giving up some convenience, which costs more than many realize.

Produce

Fresh fruits and vegetables often aren’t as costly as many people think, as long as you lean toward whole fruits and veggies, not fruit bowls and bagged greens.

But don’t automatically steer toward large bags of apples or grapefruit just because the price is enticing. If they go bad, it’s money into the trash. Check expiration labels, too. And while our global marketplace has led to a ready supply of most fruits year-round, what’s offseason in the U.S. still often comes at a high cost. Lean toward citrus in the winter, plums and peaches in the summer and apples in the fall to get the best deals.

Don’t rule out canned or frozen fruits and vegetables, as they can be bought in bulk on sale and used as needed. Isabel Maples, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the National Dairy Council, suggests rinsing canned vegetables to remove about 40% of the sodium and make the choice healthier.