Buy wholesome food cheaply with these tips. Food is the second largest category in most family budgets, after the housing expense, so cutting costs here can result in substantial savings.

* Make a list of what is in the pantry. There should be enough of each food item until the next sale. For example, if the family ordinarily has beef stew once a week, then stock the pantry with enough beef, potatoes, onions, carrots, spices, etc. to sustain the family to the next sale. Consistently purchasing food at its lowest price will help tremendously toward saving money.

* Start reading the sales circulars for the loss leaders. A loss leader is a sale item priced at the store's wholesale cost to entice the customer away from the competition. Make a habit of shopping loss leaders every week and save money.

* When scanning the store ads, consider the other places which sell food as some are more budget friendly than the mainstream food market. Read the ads for area ethnic stores, dollar stores, pharmacies, farmers markets, discount stores, department stores and, yes, even the gas station.

* Ethnic stores more often than not offer good value on spices, fresh fruits and vegetables, rice, dried beans, and cereal. Many ethnic stores buy their produce locally so it can be more wholesome than something grown in third world countries with weakly enforced health regulations, if any at all.

* Gas stations frequently sell milk for less than the major grocery stores. If you will be stopping to fill the gas tank, take a minute to walk inside and save some money.

* Pharmacies, as well as a few other non-grocery stores, offer a good value with their coupon policies. Walgreen's permits you to use a manufacturer's coupon in addition to their store-issued coupon. This can bring down the price to less than half. In addition, Walgreen's offers a rebate booklet every month that puts the rebates on store gift cards. Not only does this make some of the items free, but also use the gift card for further purchases that will also have rebates. The redemption process is very easy and completed online in a minute or two.

* Discount grocery stores such as Save-A-Lot usually have the cheapest meats unless there is a good loss leader at the mainstream grocery. Save-A-Lot also sells fresh bread for 85 cents a loaf, canned goods from 49 cents, butter runs from $1.49 - $1.99 per pound; 10-pound bags of chicken are 59 cents a pound. Eggs are $1.89 for 18 count large. These prices are valid as of January 2010.

* Discount groceries may or may not offer name brand products. They are able to sell wholesome food cheaply by offering their own store line of merchandise or from buying locally. The best way to buy name brand products is to combine a coupon with an online sale.

Buy Healthy Food Cheaply

Many online grocers have excellent prices even when there is a shipping charge. Sometimes a larger order will have free shipping to show appreciation for your patronage.

* Take a few minutes to stop by the roadside stand on your way home. Fresh picked fruits and vegetables are more wholesome than something that has sat in a truck being shipped across the country for 5-8 days.

* Shopping online can be a good alternative for people who live in small communities without much of a selection in products nor enough competition for low prices. You can buy just about every food imaginable.