Sunday, February 22, 2009

How to Grocery Shop Cheap

Have you ever wondered how to grocery shop cheap? The answer will vary from household to household depending on what you like to eat, and how much money you have to work with.

There are a few basic strategies that will help you slash your grocery bill when money is especially tight, although the most important thing to remember is this

What you do not put it in your shopping cart; you do not spend money on.

I can almost hear you all saying, “Well, duh! But, I have to eat something!”

Of course you do, and the first thing you should do to avoid spending money is to go shopping in your own pantry and freezer. Even the most depleted household will have something on hand already. Consider anything you have leftover from previous weeks to be a bonus. It’s like found money and something to be glad of, not frustration.

Your main goal is two-fold. First, avoid wasting money by using anything perishable so you aren’t wasting your grocery dollars on food that ends up in the trash. Second, anything you already have on hand is an item you will not need to buy and spend money on this week, so you can free up a few dollars for other items to add variety to your diet. Having a few extra dollars for goodies and extras can make a big difference when money is really tight. has a really cool database for ingredients and leftovers. Just tell the wizard what ingredients you have on hand and up pop more recipes than you could imagine. Tip: If you are stuck for ideas on what to make out of sale grocery items, this is the place to go for ideas! You can find all sorts of easy and really delicious recipes here, and I use this resource a lot myself when I want to try something new.

Now that you have a loose plan for the items you already have, what do you still need to buy? Forget about what you would like and focus on your needs. Cereal is cereal right? Does it matter if whatever you buy is not your all time favorite for a week or two? Does it matter if the cereal you buy is a store brand instead of the name brand you usually get? You get the point, focus on needs and try to work in as many wants in as you can.

Write down what you still need and how much you need to buy for the week. Need, need, need…I can’t stress the point enough. Most of us are so brand conscious that it is hard to remember that there is a difference between wants and needs at times…I’m guilty too!

Once you have an idea of your needs, hit the sales circulars and see what is on sale. Ask yourself if you can justify each purchase if your budget is exceptionally tight.

Make sure as you write your shopping list that you pay attention to covering all your needs and total the list as you go so you will know how much you are spending for the week. Here are a few things to consider as you write your list:

1. Did I find a way to work in all of last week’s perishables before they were wasted?
2. Do I have enough volume of food to feed my family for the week with reasonably sized portions?
3. Are the items I am purchasing varied? Do I have some perishables, some frozen and canned goods, enough meat, and enough variety to satisfy everyone in my family?
4. Did I allow for a few treats? Making sure you have a few goodies helps to avoid the boredom of a basic diet.
5. Did I allow for any special dietary needs in the family? Food for the pets, dietary restrictions and allergies?
6. Is my list reasonable in everyway?

One more thing, once you have written your list, don’t forget to squeeze every last penny of savings out of your purchases. Have a look through your coupons, to make sure you are not missing any savings.

Now you know how to grocery shop cheap. Don’t waste anything, shop in your own freezer and pantry before grocery shopping, write a list, buy only what you need and what is on sale, don’t forget your coupons.

Happy cheap grocery shopping!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Cooking Tips: How to Ripen a Banana Quickly

How ripe do you like your bananas before eating them? I just came from my grocery shopping at the dollar store and bought a huge bag of bananas for a buck. Great deal, with one exception....the bananas were greener than green. Usually I just leave my fruit to ripen on the counter, and the warm climate where I live does the rest. I want to make banana bread later this week, so I'm going to need to ripen this bag in a hurry.

As all of you know, bananas are harvested and shipped to your local supermarket while still green to avoid shipping damage and spoilage. Generally, the bananas will ripen slightly in transit and just be turning light yellow at the time they arrive in the supermarket.

If you should happen to get an extra green bunch of bananas, here are a few tips on how to ripen bananas quickly:

Place the green bananas in a paper bag with an apple in it and fold over the top to seal the bag. Ethylene gas is the gas that ripens fruits naturally. The ripe apple will produce ethylene gas and help the bananas to ripen more quickly. This is the quickest way to ripen bananas at a faster than normal pace. Incidentally, the same works for other types of fruit.

If you need to ripen your bunch of bananas faster still, place the sealed bag in a warm spot to speed the release of ethylene from the apple. Heat makes the reaction progress at a faster rate. You can try placing the bag outside in the sun during the heat of the day, or near a closed window that gets direct sun light. I also like to set my bag of bananas to be ripened quickly on top of the stove once I'm done cooking. Don't do this until the stove top is off and has cooled a bit to prevent fire hazards! But once cooled to the touch, the still warm stove top is a great place to place fruit you need to ripen quickly for about a half an hour or so.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Save Money on Food - Interesting Facts on How to Keep Your Produce Fresh

Save Money on Food - Interesting Facts on How to Keep Your Produce Fresh
By Theresa Kruger

Want to save money on food? Tired of throwing away rotten produce? Here are some handy tips to prolong the freshness of common fruits and vegetables.

Our fridge temperature is probably one of the last things that's ever on our mind. The temperature inside your fridge should be between 32F and 41F. If it's too warm, food won't be chilled correctly and bacteria will start to multiply. While if its too cold, ice particles will form within the food.

Avoid storing fresh produce in the plastic packaging in which it's sold. Air should circulate around fruit and vegetables to prevent them from sweating and becoming soggy.

Apples: Remove unblemished apples to prevent them from contaminating the others with their rot.

Lettuce: This is one exception to the no-plastic rule because it seems to thrive if it's kept loose in a large plastic bag in the fridge. A good way to revive limp lettuce is to slice off a sliver of the stem and place the lettuce in a bowl of cold water. Individual leaves can be revived if you sprinkle them with cold water, wrap them in a tea towel and pop them in the fridge for an hour or so.

Carrots (and beetroot and turnips): Cut off any green, leafy tops because these will continue to draw nutrients from the roots. Like all root vegetables, carrots will last longer if they're kept in a cold, dry, dark place with good ventilation.

Lemons: After you've cut a lemon in half, place the halves cut side down on a saucer. Then cover them with an inverted glass and store them in a cool place.

Celery: Celery starts to lose its flavor as soon as it's washed. The best way to store a piece of celery is to stand the stalk upright in a glass of water before placing it in the fridge.

Mushrooms: Store mushrooms in a cool, dark place, but not the fridge. I find that they last longer if they are wiped dry and laid on a piece of paper towel.

Onions: Onions are easy to store. Just put them into a vegetable basket or wire rack. The trick to preventing them from rotting is to keep the bulbs apart so that air can circulate around them.

Potatoes: Stop potatoes from sprouting by storing them in a cool, dry place with a few apples. If you've peeled too many or have peeled them in preparation for cooking, put them in a bowl. Then cover them with water, and place the bowl in the fridge.

Tomatoes: Some people like their tomatoes rock hard, while others prefer them soft. Green tomatoes, along with any that haven't fully ripened, are best stored in a dark place. Exposing them to sunlight simply makes them soft not ripe. To ripen them, place them either in a brown paper bag with an apple or in a drawer, stalk side up, and leave them until they've turned rosy red.

Save money on food, keep your produce tasting fresh and most importantly make your produce last until you're next trip to the grocery store by following these handy tips.

By the way, there is a product called Debbie Meyer Green Bags which also keeps food fresh for longer. If you've ever wondered if these bags really do work please visit my Green Bags review. I also have other kitchen product reviews from the As Seen on TV lineup at my site

Article Source:

My Take: For the most part, I agree with the author of this article with just a few exceptions. First, keeping lettuce tightly wrapped and then adding a second layer of plastic will keep the entire head fresh for nearly one month. Second, I like to process my produce for the week all at once to save time. I chop onions, tomatoes,celery and other staple items for cooking and cover tightly for use within a few days. Preparing ahead saves a lot of time and encourages me to use all of what I have purchased in a timely manner.
As to the Green Bags review, I have seen them advertised before but have never tried them myself. If anyone has used this product, I'd be interested in hearing of your experiences.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

14 Budget Stretching Dollar Store Grocery Buys…Do You Know How to Cook Cheap?

If you have never considered buying part of your groceries at the dollar store you are missing out on some of the best money saving deals EVER.

Many folks just don’t realize the savings that they are passing up every day.

Myths: Dollar stores only carry junk food and outdated no-name grocery products.

Realities: Many dollar stores now carry large grocery sections complete with bakery, produce, dairy and frozen foods. While many of the items you find are discontinued and generics, many are also major name brands that you will recognize. Perishables may be short dated, but not all are. Yes, they do carry a good selection of junk food, but there is enough healthy fare here for those who watch closely what they eat as well as fellow junk-food-junkies.

Dollar Store Do’s

1. Keep an eye out for name brands. On my last trip to the dollar store I found name brand bagged produce and salad fixings, salad dressings, granola bars, lunch meat, low-fat frozen dinners and ice cream, just to name a few. Buying name brands will bump up your savings, while helping to assure the quality of your purchases.

2. Not all generics are bad, in fact most are of more than acceptable quality. Try out the generics the dollar store carries and make notes on the ones of acceptable quality. You have not lost a lot if you try something and it is not the best product you have ever used. Consider the process as research and an investment in future savings.

3. Stock up when you find a really good deal on name brands. Products come and go quickly in the dollar store. Here’s my strategy for stock ups:

If in doubt of the quality of a product, buy one to test. Go to the car if necessary, try it and return to the store and purchase the rest. Case in point, I recently came across 8 1/2 oz bags of name brand kettle roasted peanuts (yes, this was many months before the peanut scare that has been in the news recently). The peanuts were flavored snacks in ranch and BBQ, but I was not sure that I would care for the flavorings. I bought a bag to test, and what a find! I went back in the store and purchased 10 bags with a total savings of $22.90 on just this one item. It’s a good thing I stocked up when I did, the next week this deal was long gone even though the store had literally hundreds of bags on a giant display the week before. My kids now happily carry peanuts as part of their lunches to school.

4. Shop the dollar store first and then fill in with sale items at the grocery store to round out your purchases. You never know what you will find and not find at the dollar store. Products come and go, produce ranges in quality and sometimes the shelves are wiped out with few bargains to be found. I shop at the dollar store first, keeping in mind what is on sale at the grocery store down the street. If there are few bargains to be found that day at the dollar store I move on to the grocery store. If there are many bargains to be found, I buy what is reasonable to buy and then buy less at the grocery store. It all depends on what is a good deal and where. My goal is always to get a good value for the money, regardless of what I spend and where.

So, which products are the best buys other than name brands?

1. Produce. No two ways about it, produce is a great buy at the dollar store. The fruit may not be the largest or the most beautiful, but the prices are certainly hard to beat. Don’t think that all of the produce is from a nondescript wholesaler either. There are many name brand items here to choose from.

2. Frozen Foods. Believe it or not, I recently found a large selection of low-fat, diet type entrĂ©es and French bread pizzas at a third of the price of the grocery store down the streets “sale price.”

3. Milk. If you use only a quart of milk a week buying at the dollar store will save you $52 a year instead of buying from the grocery store.

4. Cheese. Yes real cheese, not the processed American stuff. Frequently you can buy sliced cheese, shredded cheese, string cheese, and cheese bites in the dollar store. Keep an eye out for short dates, but the value for the money is hard to beat.

5. Lunchmeat. You can save a small fortune by purchasing lunchmeat in the dollar store. Lunchmeat is often short dated, but is a good buy if you toss it in the freezer immediately and use as soon as thawed.

6. Bread. Believe it or not large bagels come packaged in a 4-pack and are a bargain, hamburger and hot dog buns are also a buy.

7. Snack Foods. Prepackaged snacks for school lunches and other goodies like cookies, popcorn and potato chips are 40% off regular store pricing.

8. Nuts. Savings of 70% off grocery store prices, and a regularly stocked item in most stores.

9. Tortillas. If you are lucky enough to live in an area that caters to a Hispanic population tortillas are a great buy in the dollar store. I save 66% on this item buy purchasing at the dollar store rather than the supermarket.

10. Salsa and Hot Sauce. Another great money saver with prices well below that of the grocery store. Savings here ranges in the 60-70% range.

11. Beef Jerky and Turkey Jerky. Another great buy is the name brand beef jerky I get at my local dollar store. I save a whopping $3.29 per package off regular store prices.

12. Cold Cereal. You will be surprised at the name brand cereals that show up in dollar store grocery sections. Several of the dollar stores in my local area carry both name brands and generics. Prices are always reasonable and there is almost always good selection.

13. Hot Cereal. Huge boxes of cream of wheat, grits, and oatmeal at prices low enough to rival the bulk section of local health food stores. I generally opt for the packaged variety here, rather than the bulk bins.

14. Spices. Spices are spices, with very few exceptions. You will find that the bottles at the dollar store have 4 times the amount for less than 25% the price of those found on most grocery aisles.

There you have it, fourteen of the best hidden bargains on the dollar store grocery shelves. It is entirely possible to cook healthy gourmet meals only from the items found in dollar stores. The 99 Cent Only Stores Cookbook: Gourmet Recipes at Discount Prices, this it one cookbook with extraordinary ideas for great meals on a shoestring.

With the economy constantly tightening, you can still feed your family well and have money left over.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Grocery Coupons and Other Excellent Ways to Save on your Grocery Bill

Grocery Coupons and Other Excellent Ways to Save on your Grocery Bill by Mindy Tyson McHorse

Saving money seems to be all the rage these days, and for good reason. Consumers are waking up to the fact that easy credit is a thing of the past and that investment portfolios can plummet overnight. Though better days are assuredly on their way, now is the time to master healthy spending habits. When it comes to your grocery bill, such habits are sure to come in handy. Read on to learn how healthy spending habits can save you as much as several hundred dollars on your yearly grocery bill.

Plan your grocery outing

The first secret to saving on your grocery bill is to plan your grocery store trip outing. This starts with deciding on the day and time for your shopping excursion a few days in advance. Ideally, choose a time you can stick to on a weekly basis so you’ll be able to craft a regular grocery shopping routine.

Eat first

A cardinal rule of grocery shopping is that you should never go shopping hungry. Instead, plan your shopping excursion after a meal or be sure to eat a snack on your way to the store. If you don’t, all your lists and grocery coupons and planning won’t matter – you’ll be subject to impulse-buys based on the demands of your hungry belly.

Make a list

One of the major secrets to saving money at the grocery store is to go armed with a shopping list. When you have a list prepared you are less likely to buy items on a whim and more likely to buy the things you actually need. Having a list also makes it possible to gather the applicable grocery coupons.

Clip grocery coupons

Throughout the week before you shop, keep an eye out for grocery coupons. Scan your local paper and the pile of mail you receive every day for applicable grocery coupons. Pay attention to mailers and postcards stuck on your door or tucked into your front porch screen.

To many people, grocery coupons seem like more work than they’re worth. Fortunately, this is hardly the case. To make grocery coupons work for you, you don’t need a lot of extra time and energy – what you need is a system and a quick eye.

For instance, if you clip grocery coupons from your newspaper or from magazines, you need a place to keep those coupons. Throwing them all in the same drawer is not only inefficient; it’s a great way to lose the grocery coupons you need.

Instead, take your paper grocery coupons and come up with a basic filing system. This can be as simple as separate envelopes in a shoe box or as complex as a tabbed and labeled filing system. In either case, separate out distinct locations (envelopes or file folders) for the different types of coupons you have. For instance, one category could be “Groceries,” while another could be “Household Items” such as cleaning products.

In addition to creating a clever way to store your grocery coupons, you need to train your eye to pick out the good coupons from the bad. Some vendors will place ads in papers that are made to look like coupons, but actually advertise their product at its regular price. Other vendors will advertise grocery coupons that require you to buy multiples of the same product just to receive a discount, a move that actually makes you spend more rather than save more. Get in the habit of scanning coupons for discounts and expiration dates. As you become more accustomed to working with grocery coupons, you’ll quickly become an expert at sorting out the good from the bad.

Look online for grocery coupons

The age of the Internet has done wonders for the grocery coupon aficionado. You can go online and type “grocery coupons” into an Internet search engine, and over 9 million site links will pop up. Many of these sites offer free grocery coupons for you to print or download.

Like all things on the Internet though, you need to be wary. Some sites touting their grocery coupons will actually only have ads from different companies and won’t have any tangible coupons for use. Others will let you access grocery coupons that are expired or are not legitimate.

On the bright side, many sites that offer free grocery coupons are perfectly legitimate, helpful sites. Just be careful of where you go and only look at sites that list their contact information, customer service policies, and preferably testimonials from happy clients.

Check receipts for grocery coupons

One last source of excellent grocery coupons is on the back of purchase receipts, particularly those that come from grocery stores. Be careful not to chuck your receipt before you take a look at what’s advertised on back – you may find some excellent sources for discounts listed there.

Believe it or not, grocery coupons save consumers hundreds of dollars a year on groceries. To count yourself among those who save, be diligent about planning your grocery shopping trips and keep an eye out for grocery coupons. When your savings add up, you’ll be glad you did.

Mindy Tyson McHorse is a contributing writer for, your information resource and community for money-saving tips and offers so you can shop, compare, and save money on just about everything.

Recent article about how to save on dinner

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Action alert regarding counterfeit coupons

Article Source: Grocery Coupons and Other Excellent Ways to Save on your Grocery Bill

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Deal Alert: Really Cheap Protein Bars

Hi everyone, you would not guess the deal I got on Genisoy protein bars today. I have been looking for a light meal that fits with my diet plan for a quick lunch while out doing my consultations. Yes, I'm trying to lose a few pounds before Summer gets here just like everyone else. Lol, bathingsuit season is just around the corner again, and fast food is not a good option!

I just bought a lot of Genisoy protein bars on Ebay at a price you won't believe. Are you ready for this? 78 bars for $38 including free shipping. Wow! Even with a buy-2-get-1 free coupon with the bars on sale I can't do as well as the $.49 per bar I did today.

I always knew that Ebay was great for low prices on most items, but I was surprised how cheap nutrition bars were as I browsed around a bit. What a deal, and they had literally hundred of auctions to choose from. Take a look at how great the savings are on the ebay widget above and you'll see what I mean. The widget doesn't even come close to showing how many low priced options there are availiable in the stores either. Give a quick search for your favorite brand, you'll be surprised how low the prices are.

I'm going to have a better look around and see if I can find any other exceptional offers on grocery, health and beauty, and pet type offers. I'll let you all know what I find.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Dollar Store Deals?

Most of you know my love of dollar stores. I consider them to be treasure troves of bargains, where you can always expect the unexpected value. As I alluded to yesterday, there is a downside to dollar stores and the rest of this post deals with some items including, but not limited to grocery.

Have you ever pondered if the items in a dollar store are really deals? If I'm honest, some are and then again some are not.

So then, what should you be looking out for to get a true bargain when shopping in a dollar store? What items are best avoided?

1. Keep an eye on the quality. Be on the lookout for items that are well made and appear to be of good quality. In general, some of the products are well made and some are not.

2. Watch for name brands. Most dollar stores carry generics to keep prices down, but name brand merchandise from closeouts show up frequently. While generics aren't always a good buy, they can be if the quality is high...give them a try, you might be pleasantly surprised.

3. Watch for short dated product. Most dollar stores now carry food items, some with a full grocery section including frozen foods, dairy and produce. You can run into product with very short dates of only a day or two, so plan purchases so that you won't waste what you bought.

4. Lookout for toy safety. A good portion of the toys and kid items found on the toy aisle are imported from China. There have been some recent concerns about the safety of both children's toys and pet items manufactured in this part of the world. I'm not implying that all of the toys found at dollar stores are unsafe, just be aware and keep your eyes open for hazards.

Here is a good list of the 20 best bargains in the dollar store.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Dollar Store Duds? Yep!

As many of you know, I am a big supporter of dollar stores. They offer some exceptional savings. Most items are a good value if you don't mind generics and grocery products that are slightly shorter dated than you are used to. But, as with every shopping and savings strategy, there is a flip side.

Here is a short and very useful video from Bankrate to explain the downside of dollar store shopping.

While I agree that you do need to do the math to be sure of unit pricing, there is one point that the video doesn't touch much money you have tied up in the product that takes you awhile to use.

While you may ultimately use all of the lower unit priced product and save money, if you are on a very tight budget, worried about losing your job, reduced hours, paycuts or a student the bulk buying strategy is probably not for you.

Sometimes, based on your lifestyle, the higher unit price for infrequently used items will allow you better cashflow and control of your spending.

A bargain is only a bargin if all of your needs are met, including lowest price and most product for your money.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Cheap Meal Ideas for Breakfast

I’ve been getting some requests lately for cheap meals ideas, specifically cheap meal ideas for breakfast. The resounding sentiment seems to be that many of you were taking the kids through the local drive through in the morning on the way to work or school.

The local fast food joint drive through is usually quick to be sure, but besides cost has more than a few drawbacks that I’ll be PC enough not to comment on.

Other than the convenience of not having to cook the meal and clean up in the morning when schedules are tight, most of you sited the desire to feed your kids a hot meal for breakfast during the cold winter months.

We eat oatmeal and cream of wheat with milk a lot at our house. You can’t do much better than whole grain hot cereal with milk for breakfast. It’s quick, hot, healthy, filling and cheap at $.79 per pound or less at the local health food store.

Quick Tip: Old fashioned oats cook in less than 3 minutes in the microwave on high. For extra quick and creamy cereal try soaking the oats in a mixture of ½ water and ½ milk overnight in the refrigerator. Use the basic recipe of 1 part oats, one part water, and 1 part milk. Microwave until hot, top with milk, sugar and fruit if desired and eat.

For those of you wanting more hearty fare, try this recipe for a quick breakfast casserole. This casserole mixes up really quickly and cooks in the oven while you get ready for work.
The key to getting the casserole in the over quickly in the morning is to do all the prep ahead. Thaw the potatoes in a covered bowl in the fridge overnight, chop the onion the night before while fixing dinner, and make sure your cheese is grated ahead.

For super quick pancakes in the morning, make them ahead of time. Make pancakes as directed, and allow to cool to room temperature. Freeze pancakes on a cookie sheet, and then transfer to an air tight ziplock bag or container. Freeze in single layer to avoid sticking. To use, toast frozen pancakes to warm, or place on a cookie sheet in the oven if you need to heat more than a single serving.

If you are trying to avoid the mess of cooking in the morning, enlist everybody to rinse their own dish and put it in the dishwasher. There’s not much left to clean up with all 3 of the above ideas.

There you have it, 3 quick, easy and cheap ways to give your family a hot breakfast without heading through the drive through. Cheap meals for breakfast don't need to be a hassle with a little organization.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Did You Know You Can Print Free Money?

Did you know that it’s possible to print free money every day of the week? Yes, it’s legal, moral and ethical to do so. In fact, grocery manufacturers want you to.

Yeah, I know that free money doesn’t grow on trees, but it is possible to print it right from your computer everyday of the week if you like.

With the tight economy, grocery manufacturers are looking for new and ever less expensive ways to promote their products. In a desperate attempt to control the cost of promoting via the old FSI, or free standing insert found in Sunday papers, consumers eager for savings can now print high face value coupons directly off the Internet.

What’s the catch? There isn’t one really…generally you can print up to 2 of each like coupon at a time. Some offers have a limit of 2 per month, while others can be printed more often.

New coupons are listed throughout the month, and most offer savings at near or over $1 per item before the coupon is doubled.

High face value coupons that can be doubled with many multiples of like coupons are simply the BEST way to slash your grocery expenses.

If you can get a product free or nearly free stock up!

So, where do you get free grocery coupons? Right here on this page. You will notice the offers along the side bars of the page. Help yourself…these coupons are yours for the taking.

Visit often to see the new offers; new high value coupons are listed all the time!