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12 Ways to Eat Well for Less

Just a few extra dollars can mean a world of difference for your food’s quality and taste. Know when to save and when to splurge to get the most out of your grocery budget.

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Save by Buying Frozen Produce

Here’s why: It’s cheaper than out-of-season fresh produce and is often higher in nutrients. It’s also usually better tasting because it’s frozen right after picking.

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Splurge on Pasta

Here’s why: Generic and bargain-basement pastas often end up as a mushy mess. You don’t have to spend a whole lot more to get chefs’ picks, which are used in top restaurants.

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Save by Buying Everyday Oil

Here’s why: When oil is going to be cooked, you can usually substitute vegetable or regular olive oil, even if the recipe calls for extra-virgin. High heat destroys much of the taste, so save the premium extra-virgin for recipes where it won’t be cooked.

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Save by Skipping Bottled Water

Here’s why: That idyllic blue stream on the label likely has nothing to do with your drink: many bottled water brands come straight from purified municipal taps. Use a simple home filter instead.

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Photo: Thinkstock

Splurge on Honey

Here’s why: You don’t need to go for a wildflower artisanal blend, but check the label carefully. Often the cheap “honey” in a bear squeeze jar is mixed with corn syrup.

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Save by Skipping Frozen Hamburgers

Here’s why:
Preformed frozen burgers cost more than plain ground beef-and you can make patties yourself in less than ten seconds each! Plus, E. coli might be more prevalent in the frozen patties.

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Splurge on Coffee

Here’s why: In blind taste tests, premium coffee scored significantly better than standard quality brands. If you’re drinking coffee daily, it’s worth spending more – you definitely taste the difference.

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Save On Wine

Here’s why: Consumers and wine experts liked inexpensive bottles just as much as their pricey counterparts in a large-scale blind tasting.

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Photo: Thinkstock

Splurge on Chocolate

Here’s why: One-dollar bars combine 20-plus ingredients to create a bar-shaped amalgam of brown chemicals. For a little more, you could get real dark chocolate which will satisify your sweet tooth for less.

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Save by Skipping Specialty Baking Mixes

Here’s why: Consumer Reports’ taste tests prove that Duncan Hines brownies are just as showstopping as ones made from pricier gourmet mixes.

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Photo: ShutterStock

Save on Cheese

Here’s why: If you’re melting or mixing the cheese with other ingredients, go cheap! Save the $20-per-pound artisanal triple-crèmes for a special cheese plate.

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Save by Skipping Light Juices

Here’s why: To make reduced-calorie versions of these products, companies just add water (and maybe artificial sweetener or thickener). Buy the regular version and water it down yourself.