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Five tips to trim your grocery bill: The basics

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Bottom-line ways to save

Reports say that 10 percent or more of the food purchased in the United States is thrown away, said Mary Meck Higgins, Kansas State University Research and Extension nutrition specialist.

In July 2007, the USDA reported that a family of four (a couple ages20-50 and two children ages 6-8 and 9-11) spends $162.50 on a thrifty food plan, $201.90 on a moderate-cost food plan and $245.40 on a liberal food plan per week. Considering that, the cost of the wasted food could range from $800 to $1200 -- or more -- annually. "To save on the grocery bill, strive to buy what you need -- and use what you buy," said Higgins, who also offered these cost-saving tips:

  1. Check food on hand and in the refrigerator when making a shopping list.

  2. Choose foods in season, when abundant supplies typically will mean lower prices. Apples, cabbage, root vegetables (such as potatoes, onions and carrots) and winter squash are all examples of seasonal foods you should choose when available.

  3. Evaluate cost-per-serving before buying. A whole watermelon might seem costly, but could be a bargain-priced treat when its cost-per-serving is considered. But if your family won't eat it all, the lower serving price won't help.

  4. Compare prices. For example, frozen orange juice concentrate usually costs less per serving than refrigerated pre-made juice.

  5. Buy a larger quantity of dried fruit, nuts or whole grain crackers and repackage as single servings in re-usable containers, rather than buying more expensive pre-packaged single servings.

More information on food, nutrition, health and grocery shopping is available at county and district K-State Research and Extension offices and on Extension´s Web site: www.oznet.ksu.edu/humannutrition.

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