NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Cutting Family Food Expenses:

Cutting Family Food Expenses:

                The cost of groceries in the U.S. occupies less of a family’s budget than it does in many other countries, but it is still a large expense – and one that can easily expand if we are not careful. 

                Start with a list - Use a grocery list -and have everyone else in the family use it also!  If someone uses the last of an item, have them add it to the list.  Keep the grocery list where it’s easily accessible, such as on the fridge, and take it with you to the grocery store.. Stick to your list for most effective savings, but do stay flexible if you encounter a sale.

                Plan to use everything. We lose money whenever we toss food because it spoiled before we got around to eating it. If leftovers are discarded instead of becoming quick lunches, we are not using our food dollars effectively.

                No shopping when hungry.  This suggestion has been shared time and time again, but with our busy lives, it is easy to forget. We run to the supermarket after work or after an event, and suddenly every item in the store looks appetizing and it is added our cart and cost.  Eating before going shopping not only helps forestall impulse buys, it may save calories. If you’re shopping with your kids, feed them in advance as well.

                Coupon common sense.  Use coupons only for foods your family typically eats.  If the coupon is applicable only to a food that no one in your family will eat, it is not a savings.  

                Start a price book  The basic idea of the price book is to have a system for tracking prices so that when you see something on sale, you will know whether it is really a good buy or not. Typical column headings are: Date, Store, Item, Size, Price, Unit Price, and Sale.  After only a few weeks of tracking prices, you will know what is a good deal and what is not. The most important section of the price book is the unit price, because that tells you, no matter what size the item, how much you are actually paying per pound or ounce or other unit of measure.

                Use your freezer -. A freezer used well can be a great investment and budget stretcher.  Check out newer, more efficient models to save dollars on energy and stock with staples your family enjoys. at you are looking for a freezer.

                Make it yourself - A large homemade pizza costs about $3.00 to make (more or less depending on the topping you choose), compared to frozen pizzas or delivery pizzas, and your homemade pizza can be made with more veggies and healthier ingredients. If you bulk buy the ingredients and make the dough and/or sauce from scratch, it can be even cheaper to eat in.

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