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Stretch your food dollars

By Staff | Dec 8, 2012

We’ve all noticed the increasing prices at grocery stores and the gas pump during the past year. Sometimes we may find that we have more month than money.

Here’s a “grocery list” of cost-saving ideas that may help:

Spend about 30 minutes planning your weekly menus. Use the sale ads and write a shopping list. Keep the list in a handy spot.

Compare prices of different forms of fruits and vegetables. Consider fresh, canned, dried and frozen items.

Avoid shopping when you’re hungry or tired. Almost everything looks tasty when you’re hungry. If you’re tired, you may be likely to grab convenience foods, which cost more and often are less nutritious.

Avoid using a credit card for food purchases unless you pay off the balance each month. Think about the cost of adding credit card interest rates onto the food cost.

Shop in one or two grocery stores. Consider your gas if you drive to several stores for special deals.

Be familiar with the grocery store layout. Shop the aisles that include items on your list.

For quick shopping trips, shop the outside aisles of the store. Most staples, such as milk, fresh produce and bread, are around the perimeter.

Consider buying store brands. Most are similar in quality to name brands, but lower in price.

Clip coupons, but only for the things you need. Some stores double the value of coupons to a certain point.

Compare prices using “unit pricing” or a calculator. The unit price (for example, cents per ounce) helps you know quickly which package is the better “deal.” It usually is found on the front edge of grocery store shelves. Always ask yourself if you can use the “better deal” in a reasonable time.

Check your receipt and change. Although mistakes are not intentional, they can happen. Look carefully at your receipt to be sure you received the sale price.

Cinnamon

Heart Popcorn

1 cup butter

cup light corn syrup

1 cups cinnamon red hot candies

8 cups popped popcorn

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine butter, corn syrup, and cinnamon candies in a bowl over medium heat. Bring to a boil, and cook for 5 minutes. Pour the syrup over the popcorn in a large, heatproof bowl, and stir to cover the popcorn as evenly as possible. Spread the popcorn out onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake in the preheated oven until the candy coating is set, about 30 minutes.

Chocolate popcorn

2 quarts popped popcorn or 1 cup of unpopped popcorn kernels

1 cup peanuts (optional)

cup sugar

cup corn syrup

cup cocoa powder

cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C). Oil a 10 x 15 inch baking pan with sides. Place popcorn and peanuts into a large, metal bowl, and set aside. Stir together the sugar, corn syrup, cocoa powder, and butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Stir in the vanilla, then pour over the popcorn. Stir until the popcorn is well coated. Spread the popcorn into the prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, stirring several times. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool to room temperature. Break into small clumps, and store in an airtight container.

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