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Creative Ways to Stretch Your Food Budget

So you clip coupons, use money-saving apps, stock your pantry and buy in bulk (when it makes sense), but you still feel like you’re spending too much on food. Not to worry! In addition to all those proven money-savers, there are some additional – slightly unconventional — ways you can cut your food bill (and have fun doing it!). Take a look at these money-saving ideas:

Grow Your Own Produce – If you have the time, space and patience, there’s nothing more rewarding than growing some of our own fruits and vegetables. Beginning gardeners should have good luck growing salad greens, tomatoes, strawberries, basil, peppers and more. If you don’t have a large plot to plant, many of these same plants grow well in pots. Even cultivating a small container herb garden can save you from having to purchase costly fresh herbs.                                                                     6575366

Can Fruits and Vegetables – If your garden (or your local farmer’s market) yields a bumper crop of tomatoes, strawberries, peaches or other preservable fruits and vegetables, can them yourself and store them for later use. Home canning is enjoying a resurgence, with all the supplies you need as close as your nearest Target or Wal-Mart. Be sure to follow all the rules for canning food safely. You can find a comprehensive list here.

Try Meatless Mondays – Buying poultry, beef, pork or fish can take a big bite out of your food budget. Commit to making one day a week “meatless” as a way to save money on food – and get more healthy, plant-based foods in your family’s diet. There are many delicious, wallet-friendly alternative protein sources, including beans and tofu. Check out this roundup of delicious meatless recipes to start saving.

Make Your Own Mixes – Pre-packaged dry mixes for pancakes, brownies, muffins, salad dressing and other foods are definitely convenient, but they’re also expensive – and likely full of unpronounceable ingredients. You can make your own for just pennies on the dollar using quality ingredients of your choice. Store them in airtight glass or plastic containers to keep them fresh, marked with the date you put them together.

Need some help working out your household budget? Use our Living Expenses Calculator.

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