As many now know, there are going to be cuts to the SNAP/Food Stamps program this November. It looks like the rate of cuts will be at about $10.00 per individual. If there are three family members, the cut should be around $29.00. Over a 12 month period, this family would lose $348.00. This may not seem like much, but it is a lot when you already have too little money for food.
Let's take a look at how it is possible to save money on grocery shopping in general, to allow everyone to see where they will be able to cut costs. Not every money saving idea will work for every family.
Buy fresh fruits and vegetables when in season and affordable
Fresh is the healthiest choice for produce. They pack the most nutrients overall. Bananas, kiwi, berries, potatoes and more go on sale regularly. Take advantage when prices are low.
Buy organic when possible
Fresh fruits and vegetables are even healthier when they are organic. Farmer's markets and roadside stands are great places to get these gems, though Farmer's markets can be expensive. Try visiting these markets toward the end of their business day, as farmers are more willing to negotiate at that time.
Farmer's markets are also a great place to buy herb seedlings, and growing some herbs on your windowsill will save you quite a bit of money over time. Why purchase a bottle of dried herbs for $5.00, when you can grow them yourself. Better yet, buy your own organic heirloom seeds.
Grow fruits and vegetables
Again, organic heirloom seeds are the way to go. Some varieties can even be grown inside, so a yard is not necessary. Grow what you can to save on your grocery bill.
Canning, freezing and drying are ways to preserve produce and herbs for future use. Local university extension offices have information on how to preserve food, free or at low cost. It is also possible to find this information online, and borrowing books from a local library is free.
If you have favorite brands, use coupons to buy their products. Wait for these items to go on sale, and the savings will be even more noticeable. Go online to search out coupons and to sign up for emails from these brands.
Buy store brand items
Brand names are not usually any better than store brand items. Brand loyalty is costly, driving food bills up. Do not allow brand loyalty in your home, and you will save a lot of money. Children will eat what is available to them, when they learn it is the only option.
Buy in bulk
But only if it will really save money. It does no good to buy a lot of a product that will not be used. And, often, it will be more affordable to buy store brands than purchasing in bulk. Do the research.
Glean whatever is possible
Does the neighbor have an apple tree he does not use the fruit from. Even the droppings. that do not look the best, are usable once you cut soft spots out. They can be used to make applesauce. If people offer produce from their gardens, accept whatever you will eat.
Frequent the dollar store
Check sizes though. Be sure that product is really a deal because the sizes are often smaller than what is available at the grocery store. Many dollars stores now have a refrigerator/freezer section.
Visit food cupboards
Check out all the food cupboards in your, and the surrounding, area. Check churches as well. It is not generally necessary to be a member to get food. Some food cupboards are once a week. Some are once a month. Keep a list. Even if this help is only needed once a month.
Have a once or twice a week leftovers night. Use them for the next days' lunches. Freeze them to use for soups or casseroles later on.
Use 'old' fruits and vegetables when baking
These produce items are on their last leg, but still usable. Carrots and zucchini work well in muffins and breads. Apples, bananas and berries do as well, or they can be used to make pancakes or fruit syrups.
Learn serving sizes
Go to ChooseMyPlate.gov to find out exactly what serving sizes each person in the family should be having. Small children should not eat as much as a teen or an adult. Portion out servings in each food category, and money will be saved. Water is a filler. Replace extra servings of food with plenty of water daily.