It’s cold. It’s snowing. Sunset is at 4pm. And let’s be honest here: no one wants to eat snow-covered tacos. So outdoor dining - for many of us, the only available dining option right now - isn’t exactly appealing. That means more meals at home, which means more trips to the grocery store.
Just because you don’t want to spend Sunday morning clipping newspaper coupons doesn’t mean you don’t want to save. Below you’ll find a list of some of our favorite ways to save cash at the grocery store.
- Plan Your Meals
Sure, making thai at home should be cheaper than picking it up from that little place around the corner. But all those specialty ingredients get pricey quickly, so be sure you use them before they expire. You can always make more than one meal and freeze the extra. But if you don’t like the repetitious meals - or if you don’t have lot of freezer space - search online for “recipes with…”
- Taste-Test Store Brands
Store brands can be just as tasty as the name-brand version. Try one out. If you absolutely hate it, you don’t have to buy it ever again. But you might find you love it. (Pssst! Sometimes store brands are made at the same manufacturing plant, with the same ingredients. They are identical to the name brands!).
- Not Everything Has to Be Organic
Unless you are on a special diet, it’s okay to eat some non-organic food. Check out the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean 15” organic fruit list. Every year, this list is created using data from the USDA. Items on the Dirty Dozen? Buy organic. The Clean 15? Skip the organic and save.
- Eat in Season
Sure, you can buy watermelon in February or oranges in July, but how much do you want to pay for them? Fruit that’s out of season is generally imported from other countries, which really hikes up the price. Instead, get your taste buds used to eating locally available fruits and veggies.
- Shop the Inside Aisles
The outside aisles of the grocery store have traditionally held the prepackaged meals. These will generally cost more - and be less healthy - than if you buy the ingredients and create your own meals. Google recipes and stick to the inside aisles.
- Compare Unit Prices
What’s the unit price? It’s the price per gallon/ounce/serving, etc. We’ve been raised to think that buying larger quantities is less expensive, but that’s not always the case. $5 for 4 yogurts = $1.25 each. $6 for 5 yogurts = $1.20 each. Sure, it’s only a nickel, but nickels become quarters, quarters become dollars, and, well, you know the rest.
- Chop It Up
Those bags of pre-cut, pre-diced fruits and veggies are quick and easy, but are they worth it? No. Chop your own and you will save money every time. Same goes for bags of grated cheese - buy a wedge of parm and fresh-grate it over your pasta, instead.
- Snack First, Shop Later
This advice is a classic for a reason: because it works. But really, never shop on an empty stomach. You’ll be much more easily tempted to buy snacks, fast-fix meals, and other budget-busters.
- Make a List and Check It Twice
Avoid pricey impulse purchases by arming yourself with a list. Plan out meals, go through your pantry/fridge to figure out what you need, and write it down. Once you get to the store, if it’s not on the list, don’t buy it. Stick to your list. Avoid the sales and don’t even look at the end caps!
- Plan to NOT Cook
No matter how many fresh, tasty ingredients you have, there will be days when you just don’t want to cook. Pick up some easy frozen meals to have on hand when that happens, so you’re not tempted by drive-thrus on the way home.
Ready to Shop?
So there you have it - our top 10 pro tips for holding on to your cash at the grocery store. Follow these, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at just how much you can save.