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Life and Religion

Save money on your holiday groceries
Aside from gifts, putting food on the table is one the biggest expenses of the season.
 
Published Thursday, December 13, 2012 4:30 pm
by Michaela L. Duckett

Aside from gifts, one of the biggest expenses for families this holiday season is putting food on the table.

 

Planning a holiday meal can be expensive. Groceries are not cheap, and during the holiday season it is easier to overspend. Follow these tips to help you save and eat healthier this holiday season:

 

Set a budget

 

Go online to www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings/fooddollar/ to find an easy-to-use calculator based on the USDA’s Low-Cost Food Plan that will help calculate a reasonable food budget based the size of your family or number of guests you expect. Now with your budget in mind, create a shopping list and stick to them both.

 

Use coupons

 

Whether you pick up the Sunday paper or browse websites, save time (and money) by only clipping or printing coupons that are for items already on your shopping list. Also, don’t forget about social media. Follow grocery retailers on Twitter, “like” their Facebook pages and sign up for their email lists to receive alerts on when they are having sales or doubling and tripling coupons.

 

Buy fruits and vegetables in season at the local Farmer’s Market.

 

Fruits and vegetables cost less when they are in season because they are more plentiful. Fruits currently in season include apples, oranges, pears, pomegranates, cranberries and pears. Veggies currently in season include beets, broccoli, carrots, celery, collard greens, onions, potatoes and spinach. For a complete list of what is in season, visit usda.gov. Then search online to find recipes using these seasonal foods.

 

Freeze left overs

 

It is not uncommon to cook more than you need during the holidays. Don’t let your food or money got to waste. Place enough food for one or two meals in freezer-safe containers to freeze and serve on another day.

 

Cut your vegetables and fruits at home

 

Don’t waste money on pre-cut or chopped fruits and vegetables. You will spend less at the store if you do the cutting and chopping at home. Also, consider making your own broth and gravy or mixing your own juices from concentrate instead of purchasing bottled juices.

 

Don’t shop hungry

 

Eat a healthy snack, such as an apple, before going to the grocery store so that you stick to your budget and avoid spending money on impulse buys because you feel like you’re starving.

 

Stick to store brands

 

Just as with clothes, brand names will cost you more. Also, be sure to avoid small convenient stores when possible and shop at large or discount grocery stores.

 

Keep it simple.

 

Buy dried beans, peas and lentils in their raw or uncooked form instead of the processed and packaged versions, which cost more.

 

Avoid single servings

Purchasing many small packages is often more expensive than buying in larger amounts.

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