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Shopping Tips to Stretch Your Food Dollar
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An invitation to visit with a group of GBHS seniors enrolled in the nutrition and wellness class prompted me to revisit some good resources in my files. After my hour long presentation was completed I thought the information would be perfect to share in my weekly column space. No doubt you are noticing that food prices are gradually creeping up higher and higher each time you visit the store. The challenge continues to be, “How can I feed my family healthy food choices for less?”
One important key is to “Plan.” Meal planning is a must; completing a weekly or even monthly menu is a great way to save money. Check your pantry to see what food you have on hand and what you will need to purchase. Pay attention to newspaper ads so that you can take advantage of weekly specials. Using coupons can also help take the sting out of high grocery prices.
Next, you need to shop with a grocery list. Jot the sale price next to the item on the list and take coupons with you or load them into your phone. Avoid shopping when you are tired, hungry or rushed. Decide ahead of time whether to buy convenience food or make it yourself. Some convenience foods can save you time and money. These include: frozen juice concentrate, pancake mix, cake mix, spaghetti sauce, and canned fruits and vegetables. Other convenience foods are expensive and save little time. These include: meat helpers, seasoned rice mixes, some frozen dinners, coating mixes and salad dressing mixes.
At the store it is important to stick to your list. This will help you avoid impulse buys and will reduce the amount of time you spend in the store. The average shopper spends $2.17 for every minute they are in the supermarket. Buy more expensive foods only when they are on sale, and then buy a little extra to freeze, if possible. Compare prices (store brands and sale items may not always be the best buy) Also, you may want to check higher and lower shelves for less costly items. When you get home with your groceries, make sure you handle and store the food properly to reduce waste.  
Feel free to give me a call for more information about ways to lower your food costs.
Donna Krug is the Family & Consumer Science Agent with K-State Research and Extension – Barton County. You may reach her at (620)793-1910 or