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Combat price hikes on food

By on May 28, 2012
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Food prices are rising. Packages are shrinking. Some people aren’t overly concerned over the price hikes. But frugal families do watch their food budget closely, because every dollar and cent counts, right?
Here are a few ways to help:


Use it up:

You paid for it, so you might as well get every bit out of it. One example: A rubber spatula is your friend. Use one to scrape the last bit of product from your jars. One reader, Franny from the Pacific Northwest, shares: “I use long-handled plastic iced tea spoons I bought at the dollar store to clean out my jars.”

Use less:

It’s easy to waste food by using too much. This is especially true with pourable products and those in squeezable containers. Try to use less or measure so you don’t use more than is necessary. For example, use less salad dressing. Mix your salad and dressing (by holding a plate over the top of the bowl, using a container with a lid or shaking them in a plastic bag) to disperse the dressing evenly.

Shop around:

You can shop ethnic markets, bakery outlets, dollar stores, pharmacies, warehouse clubs or discount grocery stores such as Aldi. For state-by-state listings of salvage grocery stores, visit Visit and check the “Known Produce Auctions” section to start your search for any produce auctions that might be in your area.

Keep a price book to track the costs of the items you buy frequently. Take advantage of price matching whenever possible. Another reader, Joshin from Washington, shares: “What fruits and vegetables we don’t grow, we purchase in the form of a huge fruits and veggies basket from Bountiful Baskets (, a produce co-op available in several states. The $15 basket is available weekly, but you only buy-in when you want. We buy flour, sugar and pasta in bulk at a restaurant supply store for a fraction of what it costs elsewhere. We buy meat in bulk directly from a butcher and freeze it. We only purchase beef once a year this way. I also rarely make meat main dishes and instead use 1/4 to 1/2 pound as an ingredient or topping in other types of meals. We buy no junk food or prepackaged food, with the exception of dry pasta. I make desserts and snacks from scratch. We even brew our own beer and ginger ale.”

Grow your own:

Plant fruit trees, berries, herbs and vegetables. You can freeze, can or dehydrate to have less expensive food toenjoy throughout the year. Try growing sprouts, for only pennies per serving. Another reader, Karen in Kansas, shares: “Sprouts are the perfect little ‘kitchen garden in a jar.’ They’re some of the most nutritious and least expensive vegetables you can grow yourself, no matter where you live. Suggested reading: ‘The Sprouting Book’ by Ann Wigmore.”

Wild-food foraging:

Look for books or websites on wild-food foraging and edible plants. Contact farmers, grocery stores, u-pick farms or your neighbors and ask if you can glean their excess. Fallen fruit and unharvested vegetables rot and can be a chore to clean up, so they might be more than happy to give it away. Offer to volunteer some time if necessary to help them in exchange for food. You can place an ad in your local newspaper or on or, too.

photo by Muffet

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