How to cut back on your grocery bill

With food prices rising higher than the sky people are trying to find any way they can to save money at the grocery store. There are all the traditional ways - using coupons, following supermarket sales, sacrificing some favorite foods. But there is one easy way anyone can save money with some discipline.

The next time you start to put an item in your grocery cart, ask yourself a simple question, "What's more important, to save time or to save money?" It might shock you to find out how much extra you are spending in order to have someone do something for you. Every time someone cuts, shreds, packages, or otherwise does something you could do for yourself, you are paying a premium. Would you rather put money in your pocket or theirs?

There are many food items that fill the bill, but here are a few examples. Once you start thinking about it, you'll be able to find more on your own.

The meat department is the most expensive place in the store, but there are some ways to save money. Instead of buying packaged ground beef, wait for a sale on a chuck roast or other cut of tougher beef and grind it yourself. If you don't have a grinder it can be done in a food processor. Divide it into one pound packages and freeze them. An added advantage is you'll know exactly what's in your ground beef.

Learn how to cut up a chicken, and then debone and skin it. It really isn't that hard, and there are great videos on You Tube that show you how to do it. When they are on sale cut up several and package the drumsticks, breasts etc. together and freeze them.

Lettuce for a salad - it's quick and easy to pick up a package of salad makings. After all, you just have to add some dressing and whatever else you want to have in your salad. But how long would it take to break up a head of lettuce, shred some cabbage if you like that in your salad, add a grated carrot or two, and tuck it into your refrigerator? Just as convenient, and a lot less expensive!

Butternut squash is a popular vegetable, but it's hard to peel and cut up, so many people buy it ready-to-cook, handy but more expensive. Here's a simple solution. Microwave it for about a minute and the skin will come off easily. If you cook it a little longer it will soften the flesh enough to make it easier to cut.

The dairy section presents some temptations. There's soft cream cheese, and some with added ingredients. Softening cream cheese is incredibly easy, and you can add your own ingredients - chives, olives, syrups, honey, cinnamon and all kinds of fruit to mention a few. Then there's grated cheese of different kinds, in neat little packages. Buy cheese in larger amounts and grate it yourself. Then put smaller amounts into zip lock bags, sprinkle in a little flour and shake it until all the cheese is coated. It will last for a long time in the freezer and the cheese won't stick together.

Frozen vegetables are usually a good buy, but beware of those that are considered gourmet. Some are offered with special sauces and/or seasonings, but it's so easy to buy them plain and add your own special touches, usually with ingredients you have on hand.

If you like iced tea, you can buy it in bottles or in powder. But it's not only more expensive that way; it has a lot of sugar. Instead make your own and add the things you like - lemon, mint and even a little sugar or substitute sugar if you prefer it that way. You can even add fruit juice to sweeten it.

These are just a few ways to cut your grocery bill. I can't tell you how much, because it differs according to your location and where you shop. But continue to find ways to do things yourself, and you will save money!

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