Shop smart and save money at the grocery store

Published on Friday, 15 September 2017 15:04 - Written by PATRICE DUNAGIN, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

We all have to buy groceries, and most of us would like to save money at the grocery store. If you shop smart, you can save money and still have a healthy diet. Here are some tips for stretching your food dollars:

- Make a list before you go to the store. Buy only what is on the list.

- Have a small snack before you go grocery shopping. It will be easier to stick to the list.

- Choose the grocery store that will give you the most for your money. Supermarkets will nearly always have lower prices than small stores, because they can buy their stock in larger quantities.

- Buy store brands instead of highly advertised brands to save money.

- Compare prices by using cost per unit of various foods. The “unit price” is usually listed on the grocery shelf. The unit price is the cost of the item per ounce, quart, gallon, pound or any other unit of measure.

- Instant nonfat dry milk usually costs less per serving than fresh milk and can save you money, if you use it for cooking or drinking. Many people don’t like the taste of it for drinking, so try a small taste with your children to see if they will drink it.

- Buy milk in gallon or half gallon containers because they are usually less expensive per cup than quarts or pints. Get the largest size you can use in four to five days.

- Individually wrapped cheese slices are more expensive than cutting your own slices. Often the block cheese is better for you because it has more calcium in it than the pre-sliced, individually wrapped cheese.

- Compare the cost of frozen and canned meat, fish and poultry with fresh. The canned may cost less per serving than fresh since there is usually no waste. Be sure to check the sodium level, which might be higher in canned products.

- Save money by purchasing a whole chicken and cutting it into parts yourself.

- The less tender cuts of beef such as round, chuck and shoulder are less expensive, but are as nutritious as the more tender cuts. Slow cook these cuts and they are delicious.

- Ground beef (90 percent or more lean) is usually a good buy, if it is fairly lean.

- Buy a pork loin roast and cut it into pork chops. It is often cheaper to buy a large cut of meat and divide it into several meals or servings than to buy the component cuts separately.

- Compare the cost of medium and large eggs. If the price of large eggs is more than 7 cents above the medium, medium size are the best buy.

- Fresh fruits and vegetables are at their low prices when they are in season, but buy only what you can use before they spoil. If not in season, canned and frozen vegetables and fruits may be cheaper than fresh ones.

- Make more foods from scratch at home. Mixes and convenience products usually cost more.

- Eat hot cereals instead of ready-to-eat cereals. Hot cereals cost less per serving than ready-to-eat cold cereals. Buy your cereal in a large container or box to save money instead of buying individual serving size boxes of cereal.

- Buy regular rice and other whole grains instead of the instant or precooked form.

- Pasta (macaroni, spaghetti, noodles) is a good buy for price and nutrition. Plain shapes of pasta are usually less expensive than fancy shapes. Whole grain is higher in fiber than white, although it costs slightly more.

For more information contact Patrice Dunagin, Smith County FCS agent for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, at 903-590-2980.