10 ways to cut food costs

3/24/2011 11:55:43 AM

Here are 10 ways to fight rising food prices:

1. Shop warehouses: Look for buys on perishable items and shop toward the end of the day, when department managers unload extra inventory.

2. Use coupons: Now's the time to get in on the extreme-couponing trend, particularly since there are so many ways to access them. Look for coupons in your daily newspaper as well as online. Mobile coupons are as close as your cell phone. CellFire is a great source for grocery savings.

And, don't overlook the coupons that print out with your receipt at the register. Known as Catalinas, these coupons are targeted toward the purchases you've made that day.

3. Hit the dollar-type stores: Whether you cruise the narrow aisles of Dollar General or hit one of the smaller chains, so-called dollar stores offer "ka-ching" savings on boxed, bagged and canned goods.

4. Use rewards cards: These loyalty cards have become a necessity to access store sales, but now you can also download online coupons directly to your rewards card and the savings will be taken off at the register. Visit the rewards-card pages of supermarket websites for more.

And note, too, that some rewards card also provide gas savings when you buy groceries.

5. Buy generic: By and large, store-brand generics can be much cheaper than manufacturer products with the exact same quality. In fact, generics come off the same assembly line before being slapped with separate labels, so skip brand names.

6. Use discount cards: Shop websites for discount gift cards from major chains that sell food goods and produce. Paying just a portion of the card's face value gives you an instant savings on your grocery needs.

7. Make a list: Avoid impulse purchases by making a list before you leave home and sticking to it.

8. Plan your meals: Creating a weekly menu also helps you avoid quick extra trips to the supermarket. For last-minute meals, create a gourmet dish at a deep discount by buying meats, produce and other food items that are on sale.

9. Frequent one-stop shopping sites: Save gas, time and money by shopping stores that allow you to buy everything -- food to clothes -- on one visit.

10. Avoid out-of-season items: To every vegetable and fruit there is a season -- and a better price. Squash is cheaper in the fall while asparagus is a bargain in the spring. Plan your menu around seasonal produce to save big.

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