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How to save and still eat well Nov. 19, 2012
Written by: Fran Berkoff, QMI Agency

If you follow the news these days, words like "fiscal cliff " and "looming recession" are sounding really scary. In these difficult economic times, tightening our belts, literally and figuratively, seems to be a strategy that we all should pay attention to. But, how do you eat well and still stay within a budget? It's easier than you think and here are some suggestions.

Start with a plan. This may be planning a week's worth of meals or something a bit shorter, but once you have a plan, you can make a shopping list, making sure you have all the ingredients you'll need on hand. If you shop with a list, its easier to control what you buy, stay on budget and there is less waste.

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While you are planning, check out the week's specials either in the paper, at the store or online.

At the store, buy the less-expensive, generic, no-name or store brands. Often, the only difference is the label and packaging.

Buy in bulk, if you have the room to store in your fridge, freezer or pantry.

Healthy foods like whole-grain cereals, rice, pasta, grains, dried beans, lentils, dried fruit and frozen vegetables will keep for a long time and are cheaper when bought in bulk. Canned foods (look for sodium reduced), such as tuna, salmon, or soups also have longer shelf life.

Consider package sizes if you're buying for just one or two. For example, a two-litre container of milk may seem cheaper than a quart, but if it spoils before you use it, it's not worth it.

Look at unit price when comparing two similar items. This price will be on the price tag, but in smaller print. It'll help you know whether the larger or smaller size is the better deal.

Cut back on prepared or convenience foods. Pre-cut vegetables, for example, may save you time, but you have to decide if that time saved is worth the extra cost. Rice that's already seasoned costs more and is higher in sodium than what you prepare from scratch (and it's really not difficult to cook plain rice).

Individually portioned foods like puddings, yogurts and juices are usually more expensive than the non-portioned items.

If meat or chicken are on sale, buy in bulk. Package and date them before you put in the freezer.

Have a vegetarian meal once or twice a week.

Beans, lentils, legumes, nuts and seeds are nutrition powerhouses and less expensive than meat.

Cook in quant ity ... soups, chilli, pasta sauces, stews ... and freeze the extras for later meals.

 

MORE COLUMNS BY FRAN BERKOFF, QMI AGENCY

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