Managing your food budget more wisely can help the environment as well as freeing up some ready cash each month. More than 34 million tons of food waste was generated in 2010, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Buying your food strategically can help you save money and reduce the amount you throw away.
Plan your week's menu in advance. Put together a list of cheap but healthy meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner before you go shopping. Potatoes and beans are an inexpensive source of fiber, while frozen fruit and vegetables are a less expensive way of getting the vitamins and minerals you need than buying fresh. Pasta and rice can help you turn leftovers into new meals, and less expensive cuts of meat are as good a way of getting protein as pricier alternatives.
Buy supermarkets' own-brand goods. Filling your shopping cart with store brands can cut around 30 percent from your grocery bill, according to Consumer Reports. A study by the magazine found store-brand foods were often at least as good as their branded alternatives in terms of taste and nutritional content.
Use coupons to get money off your weekly grocery bill. Cut coupons out of magazines or find discount vouchers online from coupon sites. Join supermarket club-card programs, which typically offer extra coupons. The odd 50 cents off an item here and there adds up.
Freeze leftovers. Anything that's not been eaten after a large meal should be tucked away in your freezer to be used later. If you have fruit or vegetables that are getting just past their freshest, turn them into smoothies or soups.
Buy in-season if you must have fresh fruit and vegetables as opposed to frozen. Only use fresh produce that's been farmed in the U.S. Filling your shopping cart with imported food will only add to your grocery bill. Shop around for the best deals on fresh produce if you live near a number of supermarkets.
Grow your own food. Start producing vegetables in your garden if you have the space. If you live in an apartment with a balcony, cultivate small pots of herbs and spices on your window ledge.
- Environmental Protection Agency: Basic Information about Food Waste
- Eating Well: Cut Your Grocery Bill With These 8 Healthy Ingredients for $1
- Consumer Reports: Store Brands vs. Name Brands
- Good Housekeeping: Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half!
- NHS: Eat Well on a Budget
- The Guardian: How to Eat Well on a Tight Budget
- Martin Poole/Digital Vision/Getty Images
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