Aug 14, 2012 9:51 PM by Leasa Conze

Stretching your food dollar during the nation's drought

TUCSON - With the anticipated rise in food prices as the result of the severe drought gripping much of the country, the Arizona Farm Bureau is offering some strategies for families to stretch their food dollars.

First, the agency suggests you sort your pantry and organize to clearly know what's available, something it says should be a regular effort.

The Bureau says it's best to create a week-long menu and when you do that planning, think about using foods that are down in price, information you can obtain from the Bureau's "Stretch Your Dollar" menus on its website.

Once you've created your list, stick to it. That way you will curb your impulse spending on items you don't really need.

Also, don't shop on an empty stomach, as studies suggest you might spend 10%-15 % more on your food bill when you're hungry.

It's also a good idea not to take the kids grocery shopping because they can easily influence your impulse shopping.

Stick to the basics like dairy, meat, fruits and vegetables. They're staples that may seem more expensive but you will gain more value per unit and you'll also reap the health benefits. The fewer processed foods you buy, the more you'll save.

It's also a good idea to regularly survey the weekly grocery store circulars. Take advantage of weekly advertised specials, especially for nonperishable staples.

Be wary of the coupon trap. Use coupons only for those items you would normally buy, and take advantage of "ad-matching."

It's also a good idea to check out the unit price so you can compare between brands and sizes.

Shop the edges of the store; sometimes items at the end of the aisles offer a super deal buy.

Grocery store club cards are also a good way to go, in addition to comparing prices of store brands.

When buying fresh produce, stick with what's in peak season, as they will be the best price and the best quality. And, if you can't buy fresh, consider buying frozen, as most frozen vegetables are picked fresh and immediately flash frozen. They're less expensive and they'll keep longer.

Buying in bulk is a good idea, but it's not worth it to buy more than you will use. Bigger is not always better.

Family-pack savings are a worthwhile buy, however. Many departments have a section that offers larger-sized packages at cents-off-per-pound savings. When you get home, you can repackage these larger sizes into smaller quantities, freezing some for future use.


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