Serve Up Leftovers to Save

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Leftovers
The average American family throws out over $2,000 in food each year. Luckily there are a few apps that can help you throw away less and save more.

If you have a hard time figuring out what to do with random leftovers, check out Big Oven, an app that will actually generate recipes based on whatever is left in your fridge. Simply enter the food you want to use, choose a recipe and hit the "Shop" button.

Not only will the app produce a list of ingredients that you'll need to complete the recipe, it will generate a grocery list, too. Big Oven also features a menu planner that arranges your recipes days in advance, which will help you save money, as well as extra trips to the grocery store.

When it comes to food that's been sitting in your fridge for a long time, the Is My Food Safe? app will be your go-to resource. Simply select the "Time To Toss" tab and scroll down until you find your leftover of choice. The app will then tell you how long that food will stay good for in the fridge or freezer.

So, before you toss those leftovers, download one of these handy apps. You'll have more food on the table, as well as more money in your pocket.


Serve Up Leftovers to Save -- Savings Experiment

Sure, it's tempting to buy those neatly trimmed broccoli florets, but in doing so you're throwing money down the drain.

"Those packaged fruits and veggies that are already diced, chopped or sliced are marked up 40% over their whole-food counterparts," consumer money saving expert Andrea Woroch says.

The same goes for meat and poultry.  Buying ground beef already formed into hamburger patties, or chicken cubes on skewers, can cost as much as 60 percent more than buying the raw ingredients and doing the prep yourself. "Once again, you are paying for the convenience," Woroch says.

She offers a better idea: If you're too busy to start slicing and dicing after a long day of work, carve out some time over the weekend to prepare ingredients for use during the week.

An item's label on the supermarket shelf should list its price per ounce or unit price. Use that apples-to-apples comparison between brands to figure out which gives you the best value for your buck, advises Jeanette Pavini, household savings expert from Coupons.com.

Comparing unit prices will also help you to determine if those bulk buys are really a good deal after all. You might be surprised by what you discover.

Not all organic produce is created equal.

For example, don't waste money on organic fruits and vegetables with tough or inedible peels such as pineapples, papayas, mangos and avocados. "Most of the pesticides can be removed or washed away," Woroch says, citing WebMd research.

If you do opt for organic, make sure you're getting the real thing. Look for the organic seal certified by the USDA, which confirms the food is grown, harvested, and processed according to federal standards.

Labels that boast "natural," "hormone-free" or "antibiotic-free" don't necessarily assure that food meets organic standards.

And when it comes to seafood, the U.S. has no organic fish regulations, so "don't waste your money on false food claims," Woroch says.

Follow retailers and store brands on social media sites for grocery savings.

For example, if you "like" a retailer like Wal-Mart (WMT) or a brand like Ronzoni on Facebook, you can get advance notice of deals and the scoop on upcoming sale events.

Don't take a sale sign at face value, Pavini tells DailyFinance. "If a sale says five for $10, don't feel obligated to buy all five. Check the store policy: Usually you will get the same discount even if you just buy a single quantity."

If you've missed out on a store sale, don't be shy to ask your supermarket to apply the deal to a later shopping trip. "If the item you want is out of stock, have the store give you a rain check so when the items is back in stock they will honor the sale price," Pavini says.

While many fresh fruits and vegetables are available year-round, they're usually less expensive when you buy them in season. So plan your meals according to what produce is freshest. You'll pay less -- and your food will taste better, too.

And last but not least, tap coupon sites like CouponSherpa.com, Coupons.com, RetailMeNot.com and FatWallet.com for printable coupons, coupon promotional codes and online coupons to slash that ever-increasing grocery bill.

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