More bang for your foodie buck A PENNY SAVED... Martin Lind­strom, au­thor of Brand­washed: Tricks Com­pa­nies Use to Ma­nip­u­late Our Minds and Per­suade Us to Buy

These sim­ple tips will add up to big sav­ings the next time you go gro­cery shop­ping

WKND - - When Hunger Strikes Make Your Dirham Last - By Kari Heron

You must have no­ticed that the price of cer­tain food items has climbed sig­nif­i­cantly over the last few years. In one in­stance, I have noted that the cost of a ba­sic un­pro­cessed ched­dar rose a whop­ping 30 per cent in just six years. As prices for food and the gen­eral cost of liv­ing in­crease ( and salaries stay pretty stag­nant), many homes in the coun­try are look­ing for prac­ti­cal ways to make a dirham stretch and go that ex­tra mile. Here are some ways to make your food bud­get last for the en­tire month and save you a few hard- to- keep dirhams, come month end.

SHOP­PING

Buy at the mar­ket If you want to save on the money you shell out for fresh veg­eta­bles and fruit, your best bet is shop­ping in the mar­kets. Not all mar­kets are the same, so feel free to com­pare prices un­til you find the best deal for the qual­ity of pro­duce you re­ceive.

I find that costs can dif­fer as much as Dh5 for ba­sic items, so make a men­tal note of prices when you visit dif­fer­ent gro­cers. For ex­am­ple, I hap­pened to no­tice that one prod­uct I buy for my tod­dler is Dh4.55 more per piece, from one par­tic­u­lar store, and I buy 16- 20 pieces per month. That’s be­tween Dh72- Dh91 more than I need to pay. If that does not move you, it works out to an un­nec­es­sary ex­pen­di­ture of up to Dh1,092 an­nu­ally. And that’s just the amount you can save on one prod­uct. Cu­mu­la­tively, ev­ery ex­tra dirham adds up, es­pe­cially for those things that can be bought ahead in higher vol­umes. Fur­ther­more, if you have to buy larger vol­umes, do not be afraid to ask the store man­ager for a vol­ume dis­count. Other coun­tries have whole­salers — it is a pity this has not caught on in the UAE.

Ne­go­ti­ate There is no shame in telling some­one, rea­son­ably, that their prices are way too high if you note that the same goods of the same qual­ity and ori­gin are avail­able in the mar­ket­place for much cheaper. I don’t hus­tle or brow­beat ven­dors and pur­vey­ors and re­spect the prices that farm­ers have for their prod­ucts. How­ever, if there is a huge gap, I do not feel com­pelled to buy it and they de­serve to know why.

Bulk ISN’T al­ways Bet­ter If you are drawn in to ev­ery “pro­mo­tion” at the su­per­mar­ket, you may find things you do not need con­sum­ing your bud­get while your cup­boards are cramped for space. Just be­cause items are wrapped to­gether with a sticker on them does not mean it is a good deal. Do your math. Is it re­ally cheaper? And do you need all that dish­wash­ing soap at once? Some­times, buy­ing just what you need is the trick to keep­ing your cash flow liq­uid if things are al­ready tight fi­nan­cially.

eat­ing

eat more veg­eta­bles Veg­eta­bles are a great source of vi­ta­mins and min­er­als, while the non- starchy ones are also great sources of fi­bre. They quickly bulk up your plate and meal while adding lots of nu­tri­tion — mak­ing you feel fuller for longer pe­ri­ods. Adding lots of veg­eta­bles to ev­ery meal will make you eat less of other more ex­pen­sive or un­healthy in­gre­di­ents. Carbs fill you up quickly but pro­cessed carbs and grains also make you hun­gry quickly as well. Buy fewer quan­ti­ties of whole grains ( like brown rice and whole grain breads) and sup­ple­ment with more veg­eta­bles. Also look out for fruits and veg­eta­bles that are in sea­son be­cause they are cheaper.

Stir- fry recipes Adding veg­eta­bles to pro­tein dishes also makes the por­tion look a lot big­ger than it is. Be sure to avoid the ten­dency to overeat pro­tein by only serv­ing it with along­side rice or other carbs. Adding veg­gies to your meat has sev­eral ben­e­fits be­cause it is health­ier and more fill­ing. It is easy for one per­son to eat 2- 4 pieces of chicken but you can serve each per­son the equiv­a­lent of 1- 1.5 pieces if they are cut up into small pieces and added to veg­eta­bles in a stir fry.

tuna, tuna, tuna! Tuna is a sta­ple in my cup­board for a whole bunch of rea­sons. It is quick, easy, cheap and has lots of omega- 3. I have so many tuna recipes, I could ac­tu­ally write a tuna cook­book. If you are look­ing for cost­ef­fec­tive ways to add pro­tein to your diet and to stop your­self from or­der­ing take­out or de­liv­ery when hun­gry, tuna is the an­swer. Plus, it is way cheaper and quicker than de­liv­ery.

Other canned FISH Sar­dines, mack­erel and salmon are also great sources of omega- 3 as they are all fatty fish. Omega- 3 is a heart- healthy fat and is known to be a mood booster. Be sure never to buy any­thing with tomato sauce in the can as the acid in toma­toes cor­rodes the lin­ing of the tin and causes harm­ful chem­i­cals to leach into your foods. If you like fish in tomato sauce, it is best to buy it plain and then add the tomato later on.

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