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Canned Goods Aisle

Save Money on Groceries: Canned Goods 
by Michelle Jones,

Tip # 1 - Store Brands

My number one tip for canned goods... buy the store brands and stock up when they're on sale!  Prices for name brand canned goods have really increased over the years so don't buy them unless they are on sale or a store brand is unavailable (see Tip # 3).

Tip # 2 - Money Back Guarantee

Most store brands are very high quality and offer a money-back guarantee, don't be afraid to ask for your money back if you're not happy with the product.  You may even be helping the company take measures to improve the product!

Tip # 3 - No Store Brand

Some canned food items do not have a store brand and in this case (if you just can't live without the item), at least buy it when it goes on sale and/or make good use of coupons!

Tip # 4 - Dented Cans

Don't waste money on dented cans unless you are sure they are safe. And if you drop one and dent it yourself, be polite. Don't put it back on the shelf to be someone else's problem. Dented cans are safe if used right away, and/or if the seal at the top and bottom are not broken. When canned seals are broken by a dent the store will have to throw them away.

Tip # 5 - Frozen

Many canned foods such as green beans, carrots, corn and peas are also available frozen, keep an eye on sales and pack that freezer full when you find a good one!  (Use frozen produce within 3-6 months for the best flavor.)

Tip # 6 - Soups and Chicken Stock

Wow, soups have really gotten expensive!  So as with many products, the best thing to do is buy them only when they're on sale, or save even more by making your own at home. And forget paying for chicken stock in the can or box. Every time you boil a chicken you've got free chicken stock!

* * * BONUS RECIPE * * * 

Chicken Stock
by Michelle Jones


1 Boiler/Fryer Chicken, rinsed and inside giblets removed
1 Chicken bouillon cube, or 1 tsp. granuals
1-2 Celery stalks, rinsed
1-2 Carrots, rinsed and tops removed
1/2 - 1 Onion, peeled and quartered
Salt and pepper, as desired
Bay leaf


Fill a large pot with water and add all the above ingredients. Bring water to a boil over high heat, cover, lower heat to a simmer and continue to cook until chicken is done.  About 1 - 2 hours.

Remove chicken and use in any desired recipe, or cut up and store in the fridge for later use.  To make stock: Remove vegetables from the pot.  Strain liquid if a clear broth is desired.  Divide stock into freezer containers and store in the freezer until needed for future recipes.


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Tip # 7 - Spaghetti Sauce, Ditto

Just like the chicken stock, make a large pot of sauce and divide it into airtight freezer storage containers.  If your budget is really tight just use a little sauce with each meal so the batch will last longer.  Example: Instead of dividing a batch of homemade sauce into two portions, divide it into three or four.

Tip # 8 - Fresh is Best

Buy FRESH grocery items instead of canned, when in season!

Tip # 9 - Family Size

Many canned vegetables, like green beans, baked beans and yams, come in large family-size containers.  And often, they are cheaper to buy this way.  (Especially when they are on sale!)  If you do not have a large family and are unable to use up all the food within a couple of days just pop the leftovers in the freezer.  You don't have to have a large family to benefit from large "family size" sales.

Tip # 10 - Leftovers

Since I was a young child, my mom always saved small amounts of leftover vegetables in her freezer to make all kinds of delicious (and frugal!) soups.  You could also do the same with small leftover amounts of cooked beef, poultry or ham (for added protein), and add pasta or rice for heartier soups.

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Readers' Tips...

"I've gone through countless amounts of tomato paste because my recipe calls for 1 or 2 T. of tomato paste and the rest ends up getting thrown away because I can't use it fast enough.  Now I take the unused portion in the can and plastic wrap into 1-2 T. dollops and freeze them.  Then when a recipe calls for a tablespoon, I just pop one tablespoon out of the freezer straight into the skillet.  I can't say it's saved me a ton of money, but at least I'm not wasting tomato paste!" - Debbi

"When I buy canned vegetables, I go to Aldi.  They taste just as good as the name brands but they are only 45 cents compared to 80 to $1.  Most store brands around the Indianapolis area are around 55 - 60 cents each.  So, I go to Aldi and buy 12 cans of each vegetable we like which saves a lot of money over the course of a year." - Julena

"Stock-Chicken, beef or turkey, can also be made up in the Crock Pot as well as simmered on the store.  I prefer to use the Crock Pot or sometimes the tabletop oven roaster, cooking on low.  I just let the bones, water and veggies simmer all night in the Crock Pot.  I purchase the bouillon base at Sam's club or grocery stores also  carry it, and add it instead of salt.  I get flavor and salt at the same time.  Remove the veggies, and refrigerate the stock to bring the fat to the top for easy removal.  At that point you can freeze it, or now use it as a soup base." - Patricia

"When a recipe calls for a small amount of tomato paste or chicken stock (or any other cooking liquid), I take the remaining paste or stock and put it in ice cube trays, plastic wrap and freeze them. When they are frozen, put them in a labeled bag and use as needed. You can always fill up one ice cube section with water and measure the amount beforehand, to know how much paste or stock you get with one cube." - Samina

"Tomato paste in a tube is a little more expensive than the stuff in a can, but it lasts indefinitely in your fridge. I have saved a ton of money by not wasting the extra tomato paste from the cans." - Melissa Smith

"This tip is about canned food. Some grocery stores have a room or aisle towards the back of the store for markdown and scratch & dent items. The grocery store I worked at a couple years ago would mark down all the dented cans to 25 or 50 cents. - Abby J.  (Editor's Note: Dented cans are safe as long as the dent is on the side of the can and not on the top or bottom edge, which seal the can closed.)

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Copyright 2003-2013 © by Michelle Jones, Founder of All rights reserved.