Here are some tips and techniques to help stretch your food dollar as far as possible.
Wasted, thrown out food is the most expensive food you purchase, so be sure to plan your meals around leftovers before they go bad. You can get at least 3 different meals from one whole chicken. For example, the first night, chicken dinner, the second could be shredded chicken enchiladas and the third, chicken noodle soup. Each meal is distinctly different yet uses the chicken as its base. If you buy lettuce, be sure to plan several meals around it so every bit is used.
Buy ingredients and staples like flour, sugar, spices, dried beans, grains, seeds and your food dollars will purchase more food. Here's an example, with the ingredients to make pancakes - milk, salt, sugar, baking powder, egg and vegetable oil, you could also make cookies, cakes, waffles, biscuits, and quick breads.
Grow some of your own food. If you live in an apartment, consider growing crops in containers, like tomatoes, peppers, herbs and lettuce. Another alternative is to rent a community garden plot. They are very cost effective, for about $15.00 per growing season you can grow literally hundreds of dollars of food. If you have your own place, consider planting a fruit tree, some strawberries and a garden for tomatoes, squash, peppers and more. For a small amount of work and a few dollars in seeds, you will eat like royalty and have plenty to share with others.
Go to farmers markets. This is a great way to stretch your food dollar, support local farmers and eat seasonally. When the sweet bell peppers are in season it is not unusual to be able to buy 5 for a dollar. Chopped up and placed in baggies, they can be frozen and used all winter, for pennies. In the mood for applesauce? Buy a few extra apples and relish the taste and flavor.
With a budgeted amount for food, include a portion for stockpiling. Even if it's $5 per week of your food budget gets used for stockpiling, it will pay off in the long run. If a food staple that you often use is on sale that week, use your $5 for buying a few extra. Bought on sale, items you often use, is like money in the bank.
Use coupons for items you actually use and like. This may sound strange, but a savings of .50 on an item you don't care for, means it will just sit in the pantry.
Make soup. Little bits and pieces of vegetables, some left over meat, some broth and voila! Soup!
Buy in bulk for savings. This can be a large amount for often used staples, or a tiny amount for a spice that is only used occasionally. If it is a spice that is not used often, buying a large bottle is not cost effective.