Planning and Shopping
1. Plan meals a week at a time, and limit shopping trips to once or twice a week, except for necessary fill-ins like milk. Menus need not to be listed course by course, but do start with protein rich main dishes and buy enough fruits, vegetables and breads to give variety.
2. Never shop when hungry; you'll tempted by unnecessary goodies. Also, if possible, shop when you don't have to rush, and without children.
3. Keep continuous shopping list, and add items as soon as they run low. You'll save on emergency trips to the store to buy only a single item.
4. Shop at more than one store. Keep a list of what you usually pay for staples. By comparing ad prices with your list, you can tell which items really are on sale. When staples or canned goods you normally use go on sale, stock up.
5. If your food is delivered, watch for hidden costs. Some stores charge for each delivery.
6. If unit pricing is available, use it to compare brands and sizes. But remember to consider quality, based on your own experience with the product.
7. Whenever possible, buy the exact size of the package needed for a recipe. This minimizes leftovers. When trying a new food, buy the smallest size, even though it may cost more per ounce. That way, if you don't like it, you'll lose less.
8. Buy in stores where frozen foods are kept frozen hard; where delicatessen items are refrigerated, if necessary; where meats and milk are close to 32 degrees F. Even at discount prices, don't buy from a dirty store.
9. Get together with friends to take advantage of discounts of 10-12 percent offered on large quantities of vegetables, frozen fish, cooking oil, and dry goods. Bulk buying of meat can save up to 15 percent.
10. Use store coupons and cents-off offers only when you would buy the product or be willing to try it even if you had to pay the full price.
11. For most comparisons, boneless lean meat, fish and poultry give 3 to 4 servings per pound; steaks and chops, fish steaks and cut-up chicken parts to give 2 or 3 servings per pound; fatty or bony meats -- spare ribs, whole fish, chicken wings -- yield 1 to 2 servings per pound.
12. Use leftovers for homemade frozen dinners. Plan on extra servings of stew, pot roast.
13. Lower-cost, less tender meat cuts usually should be braised (cooked with liquid) for best flavor and tenderness (they are delicious when prepared in pressure cooker). Meat tenderizer makes less-tender cuts -- like round -- suitable for boiling. Or, cut in thin strips and stir-fry for Chinese-style dishes and casseroles.
14. When you entertain, look for gourmet recipes --beef ragout, beef stroganoff (make it with topside), best end of neck with orange glaze. Swiss steak -- that use lower-cost meats to delicious advantage.
15. Keep knives sharp to carve meat or poultry into thin, even slices. Get all meat off bones.
16. Stretch meat, fish or poultry by serving creamed in casseroles slices. Get all meat off bones.
17. Liver costs less than most meat cuts, has no waste, is rich in iron. Chicken livers can be pan-fried; beef or pork liver can be braised. Kidneys are also quite economical.
18. Compare prices of luncheon meats. Bologna or liverwurst in a bulk package is less costly than presliced, pre-packaged meat. Serve thinly sliced and pan-fried for breakfast.
19. Cheese soufflés or puffy omelets make inexpensive main dishes for family or company.
20. Cutting up whole chickens yourself saves up to 12 cents a pound. Cut up several at once. Use the breasts as one meal. Cook the legs and use for chicken salad or freeze uncooked poultry bones, necks and giblets until there's enough to make stock for gravies and soups. Also, freeze the livers until you have enough for a meal.
21. Chicken is a good buy all year. The larger the bird, the more meat in relation to bone, and the more servings per pound.
22. Lesser-known types of fish and sea foods are sometimes less expensive.
23. Dried beans, peas and lentils are economical main dishes. Combine them with small amounts of meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk or cheese.
24. Canned mackerel can be substituted for tuna or salmon in casseroles. A 15-ounce can of sardines in tomato sauce is a tasty, no-cook main dish at about 30 cents a serving.
Milk and Products
25. Mix reliquefied, non-fat dry milk with an equal amount of diluted evaporated milk, and save about 50 cents a quart compared with fresh milk. And always substitute reliquefied, non-fat, dry milk for whole milk in recipes.
26. In recipes calling for light cream, you can usually substitute undiluted evaporated milk. For whipped cream, try whipping chilled evaporated milk. One 6-ounce can makes about 3 1/2 cups.
27. You can save around 25 percent in cost if you make cheese sauce from scratch rather than using a packet mix or canned cheese soup. Use powdered skim milk.
28. Make your own sour cream by adding a few teaspoonfuls of lemon juice to chilled evaporated milk, and you'll save 10 cents per half cup.
Fruits and Vegetables
29. Fruits and vegetables in season will generally be cheaper than the frozen variety, but be sure to compare eve seasonal fruits and vegetables with their canned and frozen counterparts. Note canned strawberries, and asparagus are always cheaper than fresh ones. Good buys are cans of kernel corn, tomatoes.
30. Vegetables in 20-or-24-ounce bags usually cost less per serving than smaller packages. Cook just the amount needed. Always buy plain vegetables and make your own special combinations, or add your own butter or margarine and herbs.
31. As an alternative to lettuce, use cabbage to make coleslaw at around 8 cents at a serving.
32. Save all leftovers vegetables, even one or two spoonfuls, and their cooking liquid; add them to a soup or stew.
33. Fruit makes an inexpensive and easy dessert. Watermelon or papaya, when in season, cost less.
34. Choose oranges and grapefruit that are heavy for their size – they have more pulp and juice.
35. You can save up to 50 percent on lemon juice by buying bottled instead of fresh lemons.
Bread and Cereals
36. Slightly state bread makes good garlic bread (or use onion salt or curry powder). Use stale bread, rolls or broken crackers and crumbs.
37. Don’t let extra bread spoil; freeze and keep up.
38. Buy cereal in large boxes rather than individual serving-size boxes or packages; you pay extra for small convenience. And remember sugar-coated cereals usually cost extra.
39. Hot cereals cost less per serving than ready-to-eat cereals; long-cooking varieties cost less than instant hot cereals.
40. Regular rice is less expensive than package rice mixes. Instead of buying these, add your own spices, herbs, bouillon cubes.
41. Every few days, take stock of leftovers; work them into meal plans. When replenishing the food cupboard, make a habit of putting new cans or parcels on the back of those already in the cupboard. This assures that foods are used at top quality.
42. To keep frozen foods, meat and other perishables at their peak, select them at the end of shopping. Pack them together in one bag, preferably an insulated one, to keep cold. And never let food sit in the car while you do other errands.
43. To keep fruits and vegetables at their peak longer, don’t wash them until just before using. Moisture left on promotes mold and rot.
44. A lower-cost but filling first course – like soup or salad – takes edge off appetites so your family will be satisfied with smaller servings of expensive main-dish items. And remember that crunchy, chewy foods take longer to eat, and will seem more filling than soft, creamy ones do.
45. Save up to ½ the cost of mayonnaise or cooked salad dressings, and ½ on basic French or Italian dressings, by making your own with vegetable oil.
46. Cup for cup, instant coffee costs about three cents less than home-brewed coffee. And there are no leftovers. Also bear in mind; Tea is less expensive to serve than coffee.
47. To get the last bit out of syrup, oil, ketchup or salad dressing bottles, close cap tightly and stand upside down until liquid collects near mouth of bottle.
48. Whipped butter or margarine is easier to spread, so it goes further. To make your own, beat ½ pound of softened butter until creamy. Add ¼ cup of water and beat until light and fluffy.
49. Wine left over after cooking or drinking should be tightly recorked and refrigerated.
50. Non-food items amount to about 10 percent of the average “food” bill. With paper goods, stick to basics – and whenever possible compare the cost per towel or sheet. Select multipurpose cleaning supplies – all-purpose detergent, scouring powder, ammonia, etc. – rather than many special-purpose items.