During a recent trip to the grocery store I was asked by the cashier if I had any coupons. I laughed aloud and said nope, they never have coupons for the real food, just the processed stuff. We exchanged banter about the dangers of processed food and the strategies food companies use to get consumers addicted, but that is for another blog. This word exchange got me thinking. The real food can be expensive, no wonder why people would rather have the processed stuff. I decided to put a list of my best money saving tips for your trip to the grocery store.
1. Remember Clean Fifteen, Dirty Dozen
I often here from clients that going organic makes them broke. I always ask what items they buy organic and most of the time they respond with everything the store carries. Is this necessary? I don’t believe so. The clean fifteen contain little to no pesticides! This means that they do not need to be organic. These fruits and vegetables are: asparagus, avocados, cabbage, cantaloupe, cauliflower, eggplant, grapefruit, kiwi, mangoes, onions, papaya, pineapple, sweet corn, sweet peas (frozen) and sweet potatoes. The dirty dozen are the ones that you should buy organic. These fruits and vegetable are: apples, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, nectarines, peaches, potatoes, snap peas, spinach, strawberries, and sweet bell peppers. Only buying the dirty dozen organic will help save you some money!
2. Shop Local
Skipping the grocery store and heading to the farmer’s market can save you some money. By doing this you cut out the grocery store middle man, saving you more money. There are a lot of great deals to be had, not to mention extremely fresh produce.
3. Grow Your Own Food
Growing your own food can save you tons of money, especially when you start from seeds. We planted strawberries, tomatoes, and basil this year. A garden, big or small, can save you a lot!
4. Stock Up When You Can
The best example of this is with meats! My local grocery store periodically runs $1.99 per pound chicken. When this happens we fill our freezer.
5. Create a Grocery List and Stick to It
Before I go to the store I check what I have, what recipes I want to make, and what I will need. I used to go without a list and find that I would over buy and just end up throwing the good food away.
6. Buy Seasonally
Buying seasonally is not only more nutritious but also more cost effective. For example: avocados when not in season are $1.29, in season are $.99. Sometimes grocery stores will run better promotions on in season items due to better inventory.
7. Go For Frozen
If fresh is too expensive for your budget or you do not eat the fresh foods fast enough, try frozen. Frozen is the next best option to fresh and can be cooked in the same ways that we cook fresh food: baked, steamed, sautéed, etc.
8. Know Your Budget
Knowing what you have to spend weekly and sticking to it is extremely important! This will help you determine what you can buy fresh, what you need to buy frozen.
9. Avoid Prepared Food and Make or Cut Your Own
Cutting your own veggies and fruits can save you money at the grocery store. Choosing precut and prepared will cost you more money because you are paying for the preparation. This is the same with the pre-made burgers and pre-marinated meat. So chop your own fruit salad, make your own burgers, and leave the prepackaged ones behind.