"Here are 10 tips for spending less on food. A lot of them involve planning. When you have less money to spend on food, you can't afford not to plan before heading out to the grocery store," said Shirley Camp.
1. Decrease the amount of food waste in your household. Plan to use all the food you purchase.
2. Clip coupons for items that you know you will use. Check websites offering coupons www.Coupons.com and SmartSource.com. Be aware that some stores will not accept coupons from the Internet.
3. Plan a couple of meatless meals every week. Use beans to make a vegetarian chili or bean burritos.
4. Take leftovers for your lunch or plan another meal for the family using them.
5. Before you go to the grocery store, check your pantry and freezer to make sure you don't buy more than you need.
6. Plan your meals around sales at the grocery store.
7. Purchase fruits and vegetables that are in season or are on sale that week.
8. Make a list of the foods you put in the refrigerator and freezer and date the packages to help you remember what needs to be used first.
9. Buy generic foods rather than the higher-priced national brands.
10. Mash and freeze bananas that are overripe. Use later to make banana bread.
"For more tips on saving money in these tough economic times, including preventing foreclosure, which bills to pay first, how to talk to creditors, handling stress, and more, visit U of I Extension's 'Getting Through Tough Financial Times' website at http://www.ToughTimes.illinois.edu," she said.