Cooking meals at home can save you a LOT of money.

It can cost up to 6 times more to eat out at a restaurant or use pre-packaged convenience meals than it does to create your own meals. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your food budget:

Buy the Basics—Some healthy staple items are almost always inexpensive.  Choose bananas, potatoes, dry and canned beans, oats, cabbage, rice, pasta, tortillas, frozen or canned fruits and veggies, apples and eggs.

Eat Less Meat—Meat is expensive. Buy it when it is marked down, then freeze it for later or use havel the amount of meat that you would normally use in stir-fries and casseroles. You may not even miss it!

Find the Sales—Stores often advertise prices in their sales flyers that are at or below cost. Take advantage of this by building your menu for the week based on what is on sale. 

Waste LessThe average American throws away somewhere between 209 and 254 pounds of edible food each year. Save money by reducing waste from spoilage caused by buying and cooking too much.

Compare Unit Prices—Sometimes, the cheaper price is not the better deal. Most grocery stores show the “per unit” (per ounce, per pound, etc.) price for items. Use this to compare the same product in different sizes to find the best deal!

Go to the produce section—Fruits and vegetables tend to be cheaper when they’re in season, because they don’t have to be shipped as far, and there is an abundant supply.  

Look for:

Late Winter-Early Spring: Green leafy vegetables, green peas, cabbages and broccoli

Summer: Berries, grapes, melons, tomatoes, peppers, okra, yellow squash and zucchini

Fall-Early Winter:  Apples, pears, winter squash, oranges, tangerines and grapefruit