Substitutions: Budget Grocery Tip

With the price of groceries soaring, everyone’s looking for ways to save. Whether it’s buying in bulk, substituting items or going vegetarian (one night a week, at least), there are many ways to save at the register without feeling the pinch.

Following are a few ways to save some green at the supermarket by substituting items.

Dried vs. fresh. Dried beans, for example, are much cheaper than canned beans. A recent trip to the supermarket found a 16-oz bag of dried beans for about $1.50, compared to $0.75 for a 15-oz can of beans (1 cup of dried beans is the equivalent of about 2.5-3 cups cooked beans). Not to mention, after soaking, they plump up so much that it’s like you have even more beans than you started with. They also offer many health benefits – they have no preservatives, no salt added and have an indefinite shelf life. To soak beans, pour them into a bowl and cover with water. Let soak overnight, then use as you would canned beans.

Frozen vs. fresh.
Many frozen items are considerably cheaper than fresh, and have nearly the same nutritional content. The next time you need spinach to make a dish, consider a box of frozen spinach. A 10-oz box of frozen spinach is about $0.89, compared to over $2 for a bag of fresh spinach.

Also consider those 5- or 10-lb bags of boneless, skinless chicken breasts that many stores carry. They’re the same thing as fresh, but less pricey. Just take a few out to thaw in the morning, and by dinnertime they’ll be ready to go.

Store vs. name brands. Many store brands are just as good as the name brands. In fact, most of the time they are nearly the same product – just check the ingredients list. Stores are also beginning to sell organics under their store brand name, such as Market Basket at Giant Eagle, Meijer Organics at Meijer and GreenWise Market at Publix.

Meatless vs. meat. Make one or two nights a week vegetarian night – not only will you be making a healthier meal and helping the environment, you’ll also save money. Make a simple bean chili, a vegetarian pizza, a vegetable stir fry, vegetable frittata, or just a big green salad. Tip: use your dried beans and cook a stew or chili in a slow cooker.