A few small changes in your lifestyle can save you money. If you routinely buy prepackaged, prepared foods, and frozen meals you may be paying double to triple the price for convenience.

Yes, it is much easier to open the refrigerator and pull out a bag of salad or a microwavable meal on a busy work night. There are times when that is a viable option -- but to save money try to do some of the prep work yourself.

Plan a time each week to prepare one or two meals from scratch each week. Double or triple the recipe and freeze leftovers for another meal or two.

Plan your meals around a few core ingredients that are on sale each week. Making spaghetti sauce from scratch tastes better, and is more economical than jarred sauce. Keep cans of crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce and diced tomatoes to use as a base in sauce, rice entrees, and soups. Sauce freezes well in airtight containers so make a large batch.

Buy whole carrots instead of baby carrots for meals. Baby cut carrots cost double the price of whole carrots. Clean a pound at a time and keep them in a container of water in the refrigerator. This will keep them fresh and crisp.

Buy a large bag of romaine hearts or your choice of lettuce. Cut it up and store in a Ziploc storage bag.

Potatoes and rice are a quick go to for side dishes. Rice can be prepared the night before, and reheated in the microwave the next day.

A few small changes will have you eating healthier and saving money.

For now happy shopping.

Laurie Dixon