How to Feed Your Family for Less

Slash Grocery Bills with These Simple Tips

Until you had a baby, you could never have imagined how much feeding, clothing, and caring for him would cost. So anywhere you can save money will be helpful. Here are some smart ways to cut costs on your grocery bills:

  • Plan ahead. Spending just 30 minutes a week to plan meals and write a grocery list will save cash on impulse buys at the store as well as on last-minute takeout orders. On Walmart.com, you can create a shopping list and take advantage of the special sales the site highlights (just click on "groceries" on Walmart's home page).
  • Stock up. When you see sales on non-perishables—liked canned fruits and vegetables, paper goods, and dry pasta—buy in bulk. This saves in terms of both cost and time, because you won't be running to the store with your baby in tow whenever you need toilet paper or paper towels.
  • Go generic. Oftentimes store brands offer the same quality as their name-brand counterparts at half the price. On items where you can compare ingredients, take the time to do so. You'll be amazed by how few, if any, differences you might find. Of course, nowhere is this truer than with infant formula. Since the federal government requires that all formulas contain the same ingredients, you can save significantly without sacrificing quality. For instance, store brand formulas offer the same nutrition as national brands but for a fraction of the cost. What's not to love?
  • Pick the right produce. Buying in season can make a dramatic difference. Get your fill of cherries and corn in the summer, and apples and butternut squash in the fall, because when you're buying fruits and veggies off-season you're paying for them to be shipped from far away. Frozen produce is also an inexpensive alternative. They're just as healthy as fresh fruit and vegetables, because they're frozen at peak freshness to retain their nutrients. Best of all, you can use the amount you need and put the rest back in the freezer, which cuts down on spoilage (Americans throw out 32 million tons of food every year—that's a lot of money down the garbage disposal).
  • Skip the shortcuts. Are prepackaged, pre-washed, or pre-sliced items really worth the price? You often pay double for the convenience. A pound of carrots, for instance, may cost 89 cents, but a bag of baby carrots can run $2 for a pound. Oftentimes parents don't think twice before buying "staples" like bagged lettuce or individual-sized snack foods. But in these instances, you might want to reexamine the time you're saving on those purchases versus the extra money you're spending.
  • Check the unit price. Here's an easy way to comparison-shop: Look at the "price per unit" of weight or volume listed on the shelves under each item. Say you're deciding between an 8-ounce bag of ground coffee for $5.99 and a 12-ounce bag for $7.29. A quick look at the unit price reveals that the first bag costs 75 cents per ounce, and the second costs 61 cents an ounce. So the second bag is a better deal even though it costs more.
  • Scan the whole shelf. Patience will get you the best deals. If you can, take the time to look not just at what's right at eye level but at all the products around the item you're buying, from the top shelf to the bottom. The bargains are not necessarily what's out in plain sight, so keep an eye out for great bargains!

This article was written by the publishers of Parents and American Baby magazines.

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