Business

Path to thrift may go through pantry

In today's economy, who can't benefit from a few saving tips?

We're sharing penny-pinching ideas throughout this week in the Business section. Today's focus: cheap eating and transportation.

Some tips come from readers. Others come from the misers on our staff. And a few come from rules our mothers taught us or hints we've read over the years. The full list is available at CharlotteObserver.com/business. Feel free to add your own ideas online at the end of the article. (Raleigh) News & Observer

Eat healthy, pay less

23. Plant vegetables and freeze or can enough for the winter. No green thumb? Buy in quantity at farmers markets or at pick-your-own sites.

24. Subscribe to a CSA (community supported agriculture). Pay the farmer money in the winter and in spring and summer get a weekly box of fresh, local produce. For a list go to www.ncfarmfresh.com/farms.asp.

25. Cook more meals at home and turn last night's dinners into today's lunch.

26. Plan a week's worth of meals to cut out spontaneous grocery trips and impulse buys.

27. Stop paying for bottled water. Get a refillable container and use tap water.

28. Stockpile when you find good deals, combine coupons with sales.

29. If you have a freezer, buy meat when it has been marked down. Label with description and date frozen. You'll want to use most meat within three to four months, but a whole uncooked chicken can last a year without affecting quality. For a chart and freezing guidelines go to www.fsis.usda.gov and click on “Fact sheets” then “Freezing and food safety.”

30. Eliminate waste. Make a weekly inventory of your refrigerator and pantry to see what needs to be used immediately and what can wait. Fresh fruit in danger of spoiling becomes fruit salad. Grapes can be cooked in their own juice and added to just about everything. Drooping vegetables become soup, with leftover meat added, when available. Stale breads become French toast.

31. Can't afford all organic? Some items most likely to have had pesticides used on them: peaches, apples, celery, peppers, nectarines, strawberries, lettuce and imported grapes.

32. Learn to cut up a chicken; buying a whole chicken is cheaper than buying parts.

33. Purchase potatoes, oranges and the like in bags. They're typically cheaper than when purchased individually.

34. Don't buy nongrocery items such as toothpaste and shampoos at grocery stores; they are generally cheaper at mass market retailers and warehouse stores.

35. Look at an item's cost per unit (it's on the sticker on the shelf). Shop with a calculator.

36. Don't throw out stale muffins – zap 'em. Ten seconds or so in most microwave ovens will freshen stale muffins and bread items. Use it to get more juice from a lemon you're about to squeeze.

37. Add oatmeal to hamburger to make it go further.

38. Make your own bread crumbs (the heels are good for this) and salad dressings.

Your ride and your routine

39. Consolidate trips to save gas.

40. Car pool.

41. Buy a fuel-efficient, reliable car. Pay cash if at all possible or put a good chunk down. Keep it once you have paid it off and you will save on car payments and insurance.

42. Save money on gas: get rid of the roof rack – even bike and ski racks.

43. Keep tires properly inflated.

44. You don't need premium gas unless the owner's manual says “premium required.”

45. Keep car tuned and the oil changed.

46. Learn from the pros. UPS maps out its trips in advance to avoid left turns, which cuts down on engine idling.

47. Bike or walk.

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