Saving money on groceries can be a family affair. Whether it's enlisting your 5-year-old to clip coupons from the Sunday paper or your 10-year-old to load the cart and calculate the savings, there's something for everyone. Here are some simple money-saving strategies that have worked for our family of five.
* Teach 4- and 5-year-olds how to clip and sort coupons for foods and products your family uses. Set out several business-size envelopes and label each one with the various categories of products such as soup, yogurt or juice. Then glue a picture next to the word to help your child identify the category. For example, glue a picture of a dog or cat next to "pet food." Your child can enjoy sorting the coupons and placing them in the appropriate envelopes.
* Before your shopping trip, pull together the coupons you need for the week's groceries and sort them according to the layout of the store. Taking a few minutes to sort the coupons beforehand saves time while shopping. Include coupons for extra food your family may wish to give to a food shelf. The savings often allow you to buy more to give more.
* Take a closer look at the prices of house brands vs. name brands. Conduct a taste test with your family to find out if they can tell the difference. Discuss the savings and how the cost of packaging and advertising can affect the price of a product.
* Visit a farmer's market in your area and enjoy fresh produce when in season.
* When you invite another family for dinner, use your favorite moderately priced products such as spaghetti sauce and pasta, but add some pizazz to the meal. Serve a special savory bread or appetizer from an ethnic deli or bakery. You'll keep your food budget in line and add special flare to the meal at the same time.
BIf you'd like to share your comments or ideas for family projects, write to Donna Erickson, Features Department, The Sun, Baltimore 21278.