With big family dinners during the holidays, spending wisely on food can be the difference between making it through the holidays with savings intact or having to take on new debt.
Here are 29 tips for food shopping that can help save money and make any meal healthy for your finances:
1. Plan meals and snacks around the four food groups
2. Plan meals for the week
3. Shop once a week for main items
4. Decide which stores have best prices–shop only one or two
5. Know your prices so you will know bargains when you see them
6. Make a list and stick to it–avoid impulse buying
7. Never shop for food when you are hungry
8. Shop alone–leave children and friends at home if possible
9. Review your shopping list–buy alternate foods if cheaper
10. Use unit pricing, compare sizes and brands.
11. Store brands are often cheaper and as good quality
12. Read and understand the labels
13. Cheaper items are usually on the lower or higher shelves
14. Don’t buy just because of advertising or fancy packages
15. Avoid buying convenience foods unless they are cheaper and of good nutritional value
16. Buy few prepared snacks-use vegetables, fruits, etc. Instead
17. Stock up on items which are on legitimate sales
18. Buy bakery goods from “day old” bakeries
19. Compare the price and net contents of dry cereals
20. Powdered mild is far cheaper than fresh milk
21. Use coupons only for products you usually buy
22. Buy fresh fruits and vegetables in season
23. Try some cheaper meats. Buy in a form so you can cut your own if it is cheaper that way, example–chickens.
24. Cloth towels and napkins are cheaper than using paper ones
25. Mix your own cleaners when practical. Window cleaner using ammonia, alcohol, and water can save 75% over brand names
26. Huge savings in shampoo, cosmetics, and beauty aids by comparing brands, quality and quantity
27. Shop quickly, using a list-don’t buy on impulse or just shop
28. Avoid purchasing items at the check out counter. They are always the expensive, extra items you did not plan to buy
29. Be sure that no mistakes are made at the check out stand
Editor’s note: this is a revised and updated version of a previous post.