Six Grocery Shopping Secrets
Let’s face it. For many people, grocery shopping can be a chore. It takes planning, time, and can be costly. Here’s a secret: I love to grocery shop! To me, grocery shopping gives us a glimpse into our culture. It shows how we eat, how we live, and what is trendy. And, I love grocery shopping because it gives me so many ideas for eating healthy. Many folks don’t feel that they can eat healthy food because it is too expensive. Today, I am going to talk about six secrets you can use to enjoy grocery shopping on a budget, even when your priority is to eat healthy.
Grocery Shopping Secret #1: Cook as much as you can.
Cooking can be an enjoyable, creative process. And, gathering food (grocery shopping) is one of the first steps in the cooking process. Buying unprocessed food and cooking it yourself not only is a healthy choice, but it also can save you money and time. According to ABC News’s “Real Money” challenge, ordering out not only saves you money, but it actually can take less time to cook a meal than order and pick it up.
Need help getting started? Michael Pollan has a great resource list for beginning cooks on his website.
Grocery Shopping Secret #2: Plan your meals.
Plan out your meals for the week. This way, you can be strategic about your grocery list. Buy ingredients that can be used in multiple recipes. If kale is on sale at the store, you can buy a bunch to stick in an omelet for breakfast, toss in a salad at lunch, or sauté as a side item at dinner.
Grocery Shopping Secret #3: Write up a grocery list, and stick with it!
Have you ever cleaned out your fridge at the end of the week to discover a slimy vegetable that you had forgotten to cook? Having a menu plan with a corresponding grocery list will prevent you from buying too much, and ending up with spoiled produce at the end of the week.
If you are working hard to incorporate sales into your grocery list, check out your grocery’s weekly flier before you head to the store so that your list is budget-friendly. Or, plan to keep your fruits and veggies flexible. It’s easy to swap broccoli for roasted cauliflower as a side dish, if cauliflower is on sale. And, packing a pear instead of an apple for lunch might make sense if pears are on sale this week in the produce aisle.
Grocery Shopping Secret #4: Compare unit prices
Comparing unit prices allows you to compare foods that are the same product, in different sizes. The unit price is the cost of an item per unit of measure. So, let’s say you are buying olive oil. Brand A is 7 ounces for $5.99, and Brand B is 9 ounces for $6.79. In this example, the unit price for Brand A is $0.85 per ounce and Brand B is $0.75 per ounce. With everything else the same, a budget-consious shopper should choose Brand B, even though the total cost is more, because it is 10 cents less expensive per ounce than Brand A.
You can find the unit price on the price tag. It is usually located to the left of the actual price per item, in smaller font. Here’s what a typical unit price looks like:
Grocery Shopping Secret #5: Start in the frozen fruit and vegetable section of the store
Some frozen fruits and vegetables can save you a bundle. If you start in the frozen fruit and veggie section, you might be able to check some produce items off your list that are less expensive than their fresh counterparts – before you even step foot in the fresh produce aisle. Be careful to look at the unit price, as some fruits and veggies can be more economical than others. Frozen mixed vegetables can save you prep time. On busy weeknights, mix frozen mixed Asian vegetables in a wok or skillet with a misting of olive oil (I use Misto Oil Sprayer), 1 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce, ginger, and garlic. Add tofu, canned salmon, nuts, or cooked chicken. Serve over brown rice.
Grocery Shopping Secret #6: Bring your own reusable bags
Bringing your own bags not only is a sustainable choice, but some grocery stores provide a discount if you bring your own bags. I also find that loading and unloading reusable bags is so much easier (it fits on your shoulder) than plastic or paper bags.
How do you grocery shop on a budget? Let us know by commenting below!
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