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How to Save on Groceries: Stretch Your Grocery Dollars

    • 1). Know what you spend on groceries now. When at the store, separate the food from the nonfood items and ask the clerk to subtotal after food. Grocery stores realize that you'll pick up hairspray, cosmetics, dishtowels, even pet toys, while you're grocery shopping as a matter of convenience. Many of those items are priced higher than at a drugstore or big box store. Buy those items at the drugstore or big box store.

    • 2). Keep track of all your food purchases during the week, not just the once-a-week shopping. Picking up a gallon of milk and two loaves of bread later in the week adds to your food total. You could also be tempted to slip in other food items on an impulse. Snacks, ice cream and sodas all count toward the total you spend for food.

    • 3). Go with a brown bag for lunch. A homemade salad with slices of roasted chicken, cranberries and almonds is healthier and cheaper than a fast-food burger. Kids like foods they can dip, so they might be happy with vegetable sticks dipped in yogurt made with dried onions and herbs. Add low-fat cheese and crackers and you'll have happy campers.

    • 4). Shop the sales, but only if you know your family will eat it. It does no good to buy 5 lbs. of broccoli at 49 cents per lb. if it will just sit in your refrigerator slowly turning into an alien life form. That's a waste of $2.50 that could have bought 2 lbs. of carrots and 1 lb. of celery you know they will eat.

    • 5). Don't be loyal. If a brand other than your usual is on sale, buy the other brand. Or buy the grocery store's own brand. In many cases, the store's brand is quite similar to the national brand. Shop more than one store as well, based on what's on special that week.

    • 6). Stock up on screaming deals only if you have the storage room and can finish the product before it goes bad or expires. If you find chickens for 39 cents per lb. but don't have freezer space, there's no sense buying 10 chickens. Unless you have a marathon chicken-cooking session.

    • 7). Double your dinners. If you bought those chickens, cook enough for two dinners and two lunches at one time. Cooked chicken takes up less space than whole chickens. Put the extra dinner and lunches in the freezer. You won't be tempted to order pizza if you have a yummy roasted chicken waiting. OK, maybe you will be tempted, but because the chicken is ready, you'll feel too guilty to order the pizza.

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