Making most out of family meals

Have you noticed the increase in your food bill recently?

According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, consumers worldwide are facing rising food prices.

Saving money on food can be fun because you become more inventive with recipes. Try putting some of the following suggestions into practice.

-Plan your menus a week in advance. You will know what items are needed and can look in sale papers to find the best deals.

-Cut food waste. If you purchase a quantity of food you must have a place for storage. Consider purchasing a freezer to take advantage of deals for buying in bulk.

-Make a detailed list with prices and stick to it. After a period of time, you can come within a dollar of your original estimate. Also, by making a list, you will not be as tempted to purchase impulse items.

-Use coupons. These little pieces of paper are real money and can significantly reduce the total cost of groceries. Learn to collect and organize coupons so that they can be matched to on-sale items for even more savings.

-Buy in bulk with a friend. If you find a great buy on some item in bulk but find that it is more than you can use or store, consider purchasing with a friend. You will still get the bargain price without the waste.

-Shop around. Find the best bargains for your needs. Traveling a little further or to more than one store will not deplete your food savings. No store runs everything on sale at one time. Making all purchases at one store could cost you more than you think.

-Buy fruit and vegetables that are in season. Not only do you save money this way, but the produce is fresher.

-Avoid purchasing packaged foods. You can save by preparing things like “hamburger helper,” macaroni and cheese, etc. from scratch yourself.

-Make meatless meals a couple days a week. Meat is expensive and a lot of it is not very healthy anyway. When cooking with meat, by adding beans, rice or noodles, you can stretch small amounts.

Ruth Brock is a regional extension agent serving Shelby County. She can be reached by e-mail at BROCKRU@aces.edu.