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Saving Money on Food

Frugal Tips for Buying Coffee, Milk, Bread and Fruit

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Special guest author Jacci Howard Bear, the Guide to Desktop Publishing at About.com, shares some of her frugal tips for saving money. Jacci is a work-at-home mother of four: Garret, Lyla, and twins Sarah and Dani.

Save Money on Food
Here are a few of my favorite food tips (or at least the ones I've been able to implement on a regular basis).

  • Coffee
    I drink lots of coffee. If you do too (and if you're not one of those coffee fanatics that insist on a specific, exotic brand) then you might like this tip: reuse the coffee grounds.

    If you drink coffee daily, you can save a substantial amount without significantly affecting the taste by using the grounds twice (or more!). Just add a small amount of new coffee to the old grounds. That old stuff still has some kick in it. This works best if you also use a permanent filter (wonderful thing!) instead of paper filters. You can store the used grounds in the refrigerator until the next day.

  • Milk
    Powdered milk is not a dirty word. Personally, I'm not too crazy about drinking it by the glassful but there are tricks to making it taste better. However, my children were all raised on powdered milk and have been quite healthy and happy with it.

    I buy the large boxes of the store brand (much less expensive than the name brands) and mix it up in a big sun tea jar with a spigot. Even if you can't bring yourself to drink it straight, give it a shot for cooking.

    And if you really do need to save every penny -- some ways to enhance the flavor include: let it sit in the fridge at least 24 hours before drinking and drink it ice cold (add ice if necessary) or mix it with regular milk and ease into the powdered milk habit.

    Side benefit: Recycle the boxes into magazine boxes. Cut, cover with decorative adhesive paper. They are a little flimsier but when you have several on a shelf together full of magazines they work quite fine.

  • Bread
    There is not a thing wrong with day-old bread, yet the grocery stores usually sell it for 10-50 cents less. See if your store has a regular rack for day old breads, rolls, and donuts from the bakery. If you have a freezer, stock up. I buy 2-4 loaves of garlic bread and 4-6 bags of rolls on almost every shopping trip and stash them in our freezer.

    Hint: If you use the microwave to defrost bread, take it out of its plastic wrapper, wrap it in a napkin, and defrost for only 30-45 seconds at a time -- checking after each session. This will help avoid those hard edges that microwaves create on overcooked bread products.

  • Fruit
    Buy small apples and oranges instead of the larger ones for kids' snacks and lunches. They are easier for little hands to grasp and there is less waste -- especially with apples because my kids can't usually eat all of those monster-sized apples.

    Kids sometimes have a "thing" about eating bananas that have very brown skins -- no matter how much you try to convince them that the inside is still good. For school lunches, peel the banana at home and put the pieces in a sealed plastic bag. If they never see the brown peels they won't waste the banana.

More of Jacci Howard Bear's frugal tips.

More Reader's Frugal Tips
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