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Keep your sunny side up: While the cost of eggs is rising to more than $2 a dozen, they're still a nutritional steal: Eggs are one of the fastest ways to make over leftovers or to quickly create filling dinners. Cartons of 18 are often marked down, since they're not as popular as the classic dozen. And pick up whatever size eggs are on sale; unless you're baking, it doesn't matter if they're jumbo or large.

Say cheese: It seems counterintuitive, but spending $15 for a pound of ultra-flavorful cheese like Gruyère or feta can actually save you cash. Because the taste is strong, you'll use less for cooking.
Milk it: With a gallon of milk inching above $4, why not try the powdered stuff for baking and cooking? A four-pound box of dry, nonfat milk costs about $8 and yields five gallons when reconstituted.

Hit a whole in one: There's no better budget stretcher than cooking with whole grains. Pearl barley ($.90 a pound), brown rice ($1.15 a pound), and bulgur ($1.76 a pound) are low in fat, high in protein, and tummy-filling. Combine with meat or veggies to make a little go a long, healthy way.

Try dry: Dried beans, lentils, and split peas are less than $1 a pound and packed with nutrition. Cook up a pot and eat for three nights, turning them into a satisfying, Southern-style meal, Veggie Bean Burgers, or Pasta e Fagioli.
Do the math: A box of rice pilaf will set you back $2.29 and yield three cups, or one meal. Spend a dollar more on a five-pound bag of rice, and get the equivalent of 50 cooked cups. Mix with onions and chicken broth for DIY pilaf.

Heed nature's call: Seasonal, local fruits and veggies are always cheapest, so look for supermarket signs for produce from nearby farms. Bulk-purchasing lowers costs even more.

Chill out: Hit the grocery's frozen aisle for out-of-season produce that's affordable and full of flavor, as it's picked at its peak. Just bypass the pricey sweetened fruits or seasoned vegetables, and shop the store brand. Also a deal are canned veggies, especially tomatoes: A 28-ounce can delivers top taste for $1 less than the price of a pound of fresh.
Make the cut: Put in a little time slicing and dicing, and spend a lot less money on produce: Whole veggies and fruits can run a dollar less per pound than the precut versions.

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