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How much do we spend on food? Probably way too much! A decade ago the Food and Drug Administration published a study and concluded that we waste nearly $100 BILLION a year on food we do not eat. That equals $50 per household per month.
Buy Only What You Need
Buy what you need and in the quantities that you will use. When we go shopping we see prices displayed on per unit basis and often we will buy the larger size so that the cost per unit is less. This works out great if the item is non-perishable, such as paper products, or has a very long shelf life such as canned goods. It doesn’t work out well when you buy a large bag of premixed salad and toss half of it in the garbage because it spoiled before you could eat it.
Don’t Shop Hungry
Don’t shop when you are hungry! This makes so much sense and I am sure that we can all recall how we have tossed chips and pretzels into our carts just because we had that craving. They weren’t on our mind when we went into the store but the gnawing in the stomach caused our arms to reach out!
Buy Store Brands
Don’t be afraid to buy the store brands of most items. When I was a kid I really thought that there was a valley where the vegetables may have been happier but as an adult I know that was just a marketing gimmick. Different distributors have access to the same basic raw product and those that spend a lot on advertising creating brand awareness need to charge more for that can of beans.
Stretch Your Ingredients
Try ways to make the same quantity of meat go farther. This can be easily accomplished by adding extenders to the meat. Beans are a great source of nutrition and are very reasonably priced. Adding 1/2 pound of beans to one pound of ground meat will increase the number of portions or provide larger portions. You haven’t lost anything and have added an important source of protein and fiber.
Stick To Your List
If you are disciplined make sure that you go with a shopping list and stick to it. If you aren’t disciplined then the list is a waste of time other than to remind you of what you may need. The keyword here is disciplined because the reality of the situation is that just taking a list will not help you. I have had chronic over-spenders tell me that they do create lists and budgets and take all the proper steps and don’t have success. What they are not doing is FOLLOWING or OBEYING that list or budget. Don’t do it half-heartedly.
Share With Friends
Don’t be reluctant to go shopping with a friend and buying larger quantities of perishable goods and dividing them up when you get home. That may allow you to take advantage of bulk discounts and avoid tossing out a lot of food due to spoilage.
Trim Your Portion Sizes
Think smaller portions. We are a nation that has an expanding waistline, a nation of overeaters that would benefit from portion control. Maybe I saved the best for last since if you follow it you will not only stretch your food dollars but may also have a healthier life!
More from this contributor:
A Financial Review of 2010
Financial Planning at Year End
The Money Mistakes We All Make