5 Tips for Saving Money on Food

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We've all heard about food prices rising, shortages and even hoarding. It's time to talk about saving money. Here are my best tips for helping you stay on track with food expenses.

1. Buy fresh produce that is in season. If you go to a local farmer's market, you'll quickly learn what's ripe. At grocery stores, check out what's on sale, that's usually a good indication of what is fresh and plentiful.

2. Buy unprocessed foods. Unprocessed foods are fresh foods such as dairy, produce, grains, meat and fish. Anything else that is not in a raw state is usually processed to some degree. Most processed foods live in the center aisles at the supermarket. Items such as frozen dinners, snack foods, jams, even some bread can be so highly processed and have so many unfamiliar ingredients in it that authors like Michael Pollan calls them "edible foodlike substances."

3. Make sauces, casseroles and soups that can be frozen especially in individual portions such as spaghetti sauce and meatballs, lasagna, and chili.

4. Roast vegetables as a basic building block for meals. Stored in the refrigerator, they can be used in salads, sandwiches, side dishes, on top of couscous, polenta or pasta for quick and tasty meals.

For summer vegetables include any of the following, bell peppers, zucchini, patty pan squash, tomatoes, green onions,eggplant. Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut all vegetables into 3/4 inch pieces and place in a large roasting pan. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Sprinkle with a pinch of any dried herbs or spices you like such as basil, oregano, cumin, or thyme, also salt, and freshly ground black pepper, and toss to coat. Roast until vegetables are just tender and slightly browned, about 20-30 minutes.

5. Make time for cooking. Pick a day of the week or weekend to make several things to store in the fridge so you aren't tempted to go out or order in. Make something that can be "re-invented" several times so it stays interesting. For example roast chicken on Sunday, then use the same chicken to make chicken salad sandwiches on Wednesday and chicken enchiladas on Thursday. If you get bored of chicken, you can always freeze the enchiladas and eat them another time.

------Amy Sherman

[tags]food, budget, saving money, cooking, shopping, recipe, vegetables[/tags]