Save by Growing Your Own Herbs
So stop throwing your money away. It's easy to grow herbs in your own home for cheap, no matter what the season. Let's start with garlic, one of the easiest aromatics to grow.
Simply take an existing clove with a little green sprout coming out of it and place it into a small jar with just enough water to cover the bottom of the clove. In a couple of days, you'll see roots start to grow, followed by sprouts. Once a sprout reaches about three inches in length, trim off the top third for use. These sprouts have a much milder flavor than garlic cloves, and go great in salads, pasta, or even just as a garnish.
Basil is another great herb, because you can regrow it for ever. Put a few clippings with four-inch stems into a glass of water and place the glass in a spot that gets direct sunlight. Once a root reaches about two inches long, transfer it to a pot with soil and soon you'll have an entire basil plant.
Similarly, you can regrow cilantro by placing cilantro stems into a glass of water. Once the roots get long enough, move them into a pot filled with soil. In a few weeks, new sprigs will sprout and quickly grow into a full cilantro plant.
One more tip: If you find your herbs are growing long stems but only have a few leaves, they're not getting enough sunlight. Try to keep them in a spot that gets at least six to eight hours of sun each day.
So, when it comes to fresh herbs, try growing a few at home. You'll be saving money and trips to the grocery store, as well.
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.
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.