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Stretching your food dollars is easy by taking a little time for planning and creativity.

  • Prepare a shopping list before going grocery shopping. A list will help you avoid impulse purchases and will also help prevent extra trips to the store. A good idea is to keep a note pad near the cupboard or refrigerator to write down out-of-stock items to buy on your next trip to the grocery store.
  • Check the store ads and be on the lookout for store specials. Buy foods, such as fruits, vegetables and fish when they are on sale. Foods are often are on sale when they are in-season and at their freshest, an extra benefit.
  • Replace staples like flour, rice and pasta when they are on special.
  • Shop after eating so you're not hungry and less likely to give into temptation.
  • Read labels and compare prices to get the best buy. While you shop, use unit pricing to identify the lowest cost package size and find the brand that costs less. Remember that just because something is on sale, it doesn't mean that it is the best buy. Usually, store or generic brands are lower in price. Take the unit price quiz below to test your knowledge.
  • Use coupons, but only for products you normally buy. Coupons can gobble up both time and money, if used unwisely.
  • Incorporate less meat and more dried beans into your meals. Canned beans, such as kidney or garbanzo, may be easier to use than dried beans.

Compare the products below to determine which is the better buy for your money:

Quick Oats WRONG!
Quick Oats
15 oz.

Unit Price:
$1.80 per pound

Retail Price:

Raisin FlakesRIGHT!
Raisin Flakes,
20 oz.

Unit Price:
$1.75 per pound

Retail Price:

Stock your pantry and refrigerator with quick to fix foods to save both money and time.

Start with staples - Staples are foods you eat all the time, maybe even every day. Keep your pantry, refrigerator and freezer well stocked with your favorite basic foods. If you do, you will be able to make healthy meals fast.

Staples for your family might be:

Milk, eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, bread, tortillas, pita bread, flour, peanut butter, beans (dry and canned), lentils and peas, canned tomatoes, canned tuna fish, frozen veggie burgers, nuts, rice, pasta and noodles, potatoes, garlic, onions, raisins, fruits and vegetables (frozen, canned and fresh), cooking oil.

Don't forget the flavor

Spices, herbs and condiments, such as soy sauce and salsa, can also make simple foods taste special.