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home > articles > smart shopping is the key to cheap meals

Smart Shopping is the Key to Cheap Meals

You might be thinking that spending less on groceries means you're going to get lower quality food, but that doesn't have to be the case. With a little planning and strategy, you can save money and cook delicious, cheap meals that everyone will love.

Make a list and stick to it

One of the biggest pitfalls in grocery shopping is the impulse buy. We've all done it, sometimes because of an enticing display and other times because of a lack of planning. It's easier to avoid this trap if you make a list and stick to it. Find a few recipes that you want to cook and write down exactly what you need for them in one column. In another column, write down other foods and staples that are more flexible. That way, you'll have everything you need to cook, but you'll still be able to go for a good deal when you see one. After a few weeks, you should start to recognize what kinds of foods and brands are usually cheaper, so you can stick to those.

The power of sales and coupons

A big part of your shopping list and meal plan should revolve around sales and coupons. If it's on sale and you can find a coupon, it's like getting a double discount on your favorite items. There are many websites that will help you find coupons, like the coupon database at Money Saving Mom. Take a few minutes a week to look at your grocery store's weekly advertisement and check to see if you can find a coupon to sweeten the deal. You can still get coupons from newspapers, but there are also many printable options online from places like, and Why pay full price when you have these options available?

Buy what you need

Think about the last time you had to throw food out because it went bad before you could eat it. Now imagine that food was money instead, and you'll get an idea of how wasting food can put a dent in your cheap meals plan. It's easy to overbuy, especially when you find a really good deal that isn't likely to happen again any time soon. You can still stock up on good deals, but make sure you do it with items that have a long shelf life. Tomatoes might be on super sale this week, but that doesn't mean you need to buy triple the amount you normally would. If your favorite canned soup goes on sale, however, it might be a good time to pick up a few extra cans at the bargain price. If you do stock up on a particular item, make sure you eat it before it goes bad. Move the items that expire first to the front of your pantry or fridge, and remember to plan for meals to use up your store.

If you check the coupons and sales, make a good grocery list, and buy in smart quantities, you'll be making cheap meals without sacrificing flavor in no time! What could be better?

Melissa C.
Austin, TX

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