Food & Drink

Tips from a frugal diva

Faye Prosser is a coupon goddess.

Prosser is so thrifty that she teaches classes on how to be more frugal. The Clayton, N.C., stay-at-home mom also has written a book, "The Smart Spending Guide: How to Cut Your Grocery Bills in Half, Save on Your Everyday Expenses and Live Within Your Means." Her weekly shopping budget is $55, which covers meals for a week and bargain hunting.

Prosser starts with a master meal plan, a list of meals that her family enjoys. Her list is divided into dinner, lunch, breakfast, side dishes and desserts.

Once a week, she plans a week's worth of meals based on what's in her fridge, freezer, pantry and on sale at the stores. She urges people to be flexible, just plan to serve these meals at some point during the week. Every Sunday night, Prosser files her coupons and takes about 20 minutes to write out the week's menu.

Her goal is to spend about $5 per meal. Here are her suggestions:

Always plan to eat leftovers for one meal or lunches.

Consider doubling or tripling recipes to freeze for later.

Muffins, pancakes and French toast freeze well.

Don't throw out brown bananas or turn down zucchini. Make banana or zucchini bread and freeze for later.

If you don't have an extra freezer, make the best use of the freezer space you have: Take frozen foods out of their boxes and label the bags. You always can stock up on dry goods. You would be surprised where you can find space to store things: the bottom of closets, under beds, linen cabinets, etc.

Stretch that dinner dollar. Buy less meat and serve more vegetables, grains and beans. Consider vegetarian meals. Make egg salad, tuna salad or grilled cheese for dinner.

Buy fruits and vegetables when they are in season and cheaper. Shop at farmers markets and produce stands.

When you find a bargain, always buy two.

That way, if you run out, you don't have to run to the store and pay full price.