WITH the onset of the “’Ber” months, these shopping tips may be helpful as we start planning fancy meals or cooking for bigger groups than usual.
MSN Money Business Insider’s Ashley Lutz collected these tips from Melissa d’Arabian, Food Network host and author of the bestseller “Ten Dollar Dinners.”
Instead of paying full price for meat, check out highly discounted items like cuts of pork, beef, and chicken that may be 50 to 75 percent off. Buy in bulk and freeze.
Do not follow a recipe to the letter. “Instead of buying every item on a long recipe list, think about ingredients you already have and could swap in,” D’Arabian says. For lemon juice, an acid, try vinegar or orange juice. “Soft leafy herbs such a cilantro, mint, basil and parsley, are often interchangeable,” she adds.
Make the most of your freezer. “You can save a lot of money by freezing bread, bacon, herbs (D’Arabian freezes fresh herbs with oil in ice cube trays), and tomatoes,” D’Arabian says.
Do the math in the produce aisle. Most produce items are available pre-packaged or loose. “Take 10 seconds to do some quick math to determine the per-pound price of a package before deciding whether to buy loose or packaged,” D’Arabian says. Potatoes and carrots are cheaper packaged, while mushrooms, apples and oranges are cheaper loose.
If you have a choice, do not grab the big cart. “Studies have shown that grocery stores can do one simple thing that will result in you unwittingly spending more money: put out bigger grocery carts!” D’Arabian says. Select the smallest cart available or use a basket, so there is less temptation to buy more than you need.
Do not splurge in the wrong department. Buying prime meat cuts will cost extra. Better to spend more on produce that will make a meal a lot nicer, D’Arabian says.
The salad bar, she says, “is a great way to grab a small quantity of high-impact ingredients.” You do not have to buy a large pack when you need only a handful.
Ask for advice
Ask the grocery staff for help, D’Arabian says. The person behind the butcher counter may be able to give advice on how to cook an unfamiliar cut of meat that is on sale. He may be able to break down a large inexpensive pork loin into a variety of cuts that you can use for different recipes.
Just as you do not have to follow closely a recipe, do not get bogged down by your shopping list. “Be open to guidance from the sales prices,” D’Arabian says. “I usually just write ‘vegetables for dinner’ on my list and let the prices be my guide…”
Make sure you know the prices of the things you buy most. To shop smarter, make a list of essential items like chicken breasts, milk or diapers and know how they cost normally. Stock up on these items when they are on sale.
Saving does not happen only in the store. “Ask any restaurateur: Half the battle in saving money is in inventory management. Manage your pantry and ingredients wisely, and you will save money!” D’Arabian says. “Also important: managing your leftovers. Remember, the most expensive ingredient in your kitchen right now is the one you throw away.”
Banish cooking odors
Speaking of cooking, a new formulation combining Malodor Removal Technology and Perfume Micro Capsules has been developed for the Downy fabric softener to prevent food and other smells from sticking to clothes.
Louie Morante, regional brand communications manager for Procter & Gamble Asean, says the new formulation is in all five Downy fragrances: Sunrise Fresh, Antibac, Garden Bloom, Single Rinse and Baby Gentle.
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