By Deborah Gerszberg, RD, CNSC, CDN
Clinical Nutritionist, The Pancreas Center
Here are my favorite ways to stretch the dollar on food without coupon cutting:
Buy what you need.
Careful planning before you head to the grocery store will not only save you time in the store but also money. Plan the recipes you will cook for the week and only purchase what you need.
When shelf stable foods go on sale, stock up! Many stores will also offer a raincheck for the item if requested. A raincheck is a hand written coupon the store will give you that honors the current sale discount which may be used at a later date.
Buy a case.
Some grocery stores will offer a discount (around 10%) if you purchase items in a case.
Bring your own reusable bags.
Some (not all) stores will give a discount for each reusable bag you use. Certain states have already implemented a bag charge for each plastic bag you use.
Buy frozen vegetables.
These are equally nutritious as fresh vegetables, and make for easy dinner prep! Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast as a side dish, or add to sautéed chicken for a complete meal. Just be sure your frozen veggies are free from salt, sauces, and added fats.
Freeze your fresh fruits and veggies.
Salad greens aside, you can wash and freeze almost any fresh fruit or vegetable. When berries are in season and on sale – stock up and freeze your extras. Then use in a smoothie, oatmeal, or defrost overnight and add to plain yogurt. Have extra vegetables? Rather than throw away, freeze them for later use in a recipe, or make a soup.
Save your chicken bones and skin.
Make a delicious stock from your leftovers chicken bits by adding celery, onion, carrot, garlic and fresh herbs, fill pot with water to cover, bring to a boil, then simmer 12-24 hours. Once cooled off, freeze your stock in quart size freezer bags – you can then use these in recipes instead of the pricey store bought stocks. In addition to using as a soup base, chicken broth gives a scrumptious flavor to sautéed vegetables.
Freeze your meals.
Have extra? Don’t leave your dinner leftovers in the fridge for a week, until they are no longer edible. Instead, after 2-3 days, if it isn’t eaten – freeze it. Just place in quart sized freezer bag, date and label your contents, and freeze flat. Voila, you have your own less expensive and healthier “TV dinner” to use when you don’t have time (or don’t feel like) cooking. You can also defrost overnight and brown bag your lunch!
Stop buying foods in snack pack sizes.
These are usually marked up a significant amount from larger “bulk size” portions. Instead buy the larger pack, and use sandwich bags to make individual portions on your own.
Pay attention to price.
As obvious as this may seem, there are certain foods that are significantly less expensive in one store compared to others.