Food & Drink

Some ways to cut costs at the supermarket

Maybe we've been spoiled. Food costs were so low for so long that we're not used to thinking about what goes into our cart.

Check out these suggestions for making the most of your food budget:

Start a price log, recording the prices of your favorite groceries, so you can remember if you're getting the best value. Be sure to note the size purchased, so you can make a fair comparison.

If mental math isn't your strong suit, take along a small calculator so you can calculate unit prices in case they're not listed on the shelf labels.

You don't have to buy them all. If a store is offering a 3-for-$4 sale, you usually don't have to buy all three items to get the sale price. You can just buy one or two. However, in the case of a buy-one-get-one-free, you do need to get two.

Look for seasonal specials. Citrus fruits are more expensive in summer, but berries are less expensive. Grilling meats are usually on special in summer, while roasts and whole poultry products such as turkeys are priced better around the holidays.

Buying in bulk can mean buying unpackaged products from bins. Not only are these products usually less expensive than national brands, you can buy only what you need. For instance, if you don't bake often and only use flour occasionally, you can buy 2 cups instead of a 5-pound bag.

Make meals that you can stretch over a couple days with some simple tweaking. A pot roast one night can become shepherd's pie the next.

Convenience is expensive. Learn how to break a whole chicken down into parts, freeze the pieces and make stock. The chicken will be more flavorful, too.

Make your own pasta sauces, salad dressings and soups.

Pass up single-serving containers – applesauce, yogurt, chips and pretzels – in favor of packaging your own. It's more environmentally friendly, and the larger version is usually less expensive.