Homemade soups cost a fraction of the canned version and are usually healthier for you. (Ellise Pierce / Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
Q. With money short, how can I save at the supermarket and in the kitchen?
A. While it's tempting to run into the store on your way home to pick up food for that night's dinner, you'll save more money if you plan ahead.
Plan the week's meals in the kitchen, so you can check the cabinets and the fridge to avoid buying duplicate items.
As you plan meals, look for specials in newspaper ads for the stores where you shop. Coupons can also keep costs down, but use them only on items you buy anyway.
Compare the cost of convenience foods versus foods made from scratch. Pre-seasoned frozen vegetables, snack-sized packs and bakery sweets save a little time at home, but often cost much more than the ingredients they include.
Homemade soups cost a fraction of the canned version and are usually healthier. If you have a little time to invest in the kitchen, you could save big at the supermarket.
Once you've put together your list, you can still save money at the store with some smart shopping strategies.
In the produce section, stick to in-season fruits and vegetables. You'll get better prices and flavor on the frozen versions of the out-of-season produce. In the deli, look for bargains on day-old breads and bakery products.
When your schedule and food budget allows, take a day to make big batches of your go-to dishes. Cook up a big batch of meatballs or chili and freeze it for later in the month. Freeze single-serving portions of soup for quick lunches.
Try cooking cheaper cuts of meat. Tough, fatty cuts of meat like pork butt, pork spare ribs, beef short ribs and beef shoulder are inexpensive, and get fall-off-the-bone tender in a slow cooker.
You can also cut down on costly meats in your meals, instead building your meal around brown rice, noodle or other grains. Build tasty dishes around stir-fries and pasta with a small amount of meat, poultry or fish.
For more information, visit www.foodnetwork.com.