Walk through the aisles of any grocery store and be prepared for some sticker shock. We all know how expensive groceries are these days – heck, the average family spends between $1,000 and $1,500 on food staples. With money tighter than ever right now, how can you cut those costs without starving? Here are a few simple tips to help cut costs:

  • Buy whole when you can. Chicken breasts are much more expensive than buying a whole chicken. Plus, you’ll get more with the  bird. The same is true for roasts and pork loins. The average pork loin costs less than $2 per pound (and can be cut into chops), while the average pork chop costs $4 or more per pound. Purchase whole cuts of meat whenever you can and cut them into the sizes and cuts that you prefer.
     
  • Plan your meals around sales. Is chicken on sale this week? Then guess what, your family is eating all kinds of chicken dishes for the next few days. If you have space in the freezer, you can freeze some and use packages of other meats already stored. But if freezer space is scarce, you can feed your family using sale items only. It may require a bit of creativity, but honestly, it isn’t bad eating the same thing for a few nights.
     
  • Eat seasonally. Whether you shop at the local farmer’s market, or the grocery store doesn’t matter. In season produce is always a fraction of the price.
     
  • Repurpose leftovers. The average American throws out about $1,500 worth of food every year. Yes, simply eating everything you buy would save you over $125 every month. Have leftover chicken? Make chicken salad, add to it greens for a chef’s salad or boil up some soup. The same is true for leftover veggies and other ingredients.
     
  • Eat breakfast for dinner at least once a week. This can big a big cost saver. Plus, it’s yummy.
     
  • Eat less meat.  Staples like rice, beans and veggies tend to be cheaper than meat and go further when feeding a family.
     
  • Never buy prepackaged foods. You’ll definitely pay for the convenience.
     
  • Ditch the breakfast cereals – they are horribly expensive. Opt for feeding your family eggs, oatmeal and pancakes instead.
     
  • Make casseroles and soups a staple in your diet. This will allow you to make fewer ingredients stretch further when feeding your family.
     
  • Check out local restaurant specials. Saving money doesn’t always mean that you can’t eat out. Most pizza joints offer specials during the week (my own favorite offers a Wednesday large pizza special for $6.99). Add  a salad to that large pizza for a tasty treat. Also, some restaurants and diners offer kids eat free nights, or have early bird specials.
     
  • Plan, plan and plan. Creating a meal plan tailored to weekly specials and ingredients you already have on hand is the best way save money on groceries. Convenience foods that you grab on the go are the biggest money wasters for families and should be avoided when trying to stick to a budget.

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