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5 simple ways to save money on food

Posted on December 15 2014

woman shopping at grocery store

Many people find the easiest way to save money is by completely cutting an extra expense out of their budget. After all, something like a daily trip to the coffee shop could be costing you hundreds of dollars a year, so it might be a good place to cut back. However, if you want to decrease your spending, it doesn't necessarily mean you have to completely give up an indulgence you love. There are many small ways to stretch the dollars you spend, which can really add up to big savings over time. Take a look at these five easy changes to make when buying food that can save you some major money:

1. Buy in bulk

When shopping for food, look to stores like Costco and Sam's Club to get the best deals, especially if you're buying enough to feed a whole family. While there is an annual membership fee, the one-time cost can potentially give you hundreds more in savings for the year. Even if you aren't a member of a bulk shopping club, buying bulk items in your grocery store will save you a few bucks, too. The next time you go shopping, look for non-perishable and frozen items that you buy often and see if they're available in larger quantities.

2. Seal everything

How many times have you misjudged the amount of produce or meat you needed and ended up throwing much of it away after it sat too long in your refrigerator? An outstanding amount of food is wasted each year in the U.S., but food saver type vacuum bags are an amazing tool to reduce that waste. Invest in a vacuum sealer machine and vacuum sealer bags, and simply seal and freeze the food you don't use right away to keep it completely fresh until you're ready to cook it up. Food sealer bags can even be used for buying perishable items in bulk. If chicken breasts are on sale, for instance, you can buy as many as you want without having to worry about them going bad.

3. Grow your own

Fresh herbs and spices are a must-have in any kitchen in order to create tasty and healthy meals. Those minuscule ingredients can really start to add up quickly, though. Many people find that growing a few herbs themselves is a great way to save money. Choose a few herbs you use often: Basil, thyme, oregano and sage are all fairly easy to grow indoors. Buy some seeds or seedlings and plant them in small pots. Leave them in a south-facing window for the best results, and water them sparingly.

4. Stock up on sale items

While getting sucked in by sales is a sure way to spend more money than you thought you would on a trip to the grocery store, don't be afraid to stock up on items you use often if there's a really good deal going on. Even if you spend more now, you'll be able to skip that item on your next few shopping trips, saving you money in the long-run. Before you go shopping, spend a half-hour going through your grocery list and searching for coupons online. You may find yourself saving a few dollars on items you need.

5. Buy frozen

Frozen foods are a less-expensive alternative to fresh foods, and they typically have just as much flavor and nutritional value as their fresh counterparts. Fruits and vegetables are frozen when they're at their ripest, so they're a great replacement for fresh produce, especially when you're incorporating them into other dishes like stews and casseroles. Fish and other meats are flash-frozen, which helps them retain flavor and keeps them from getting freezer burn. Plus, even if you buy more than you need to, you won't run the risk of it going bad!

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