As much as I enjoy making lavish meals every night and baking fantastic desserts, it is making quite a dent in my wallet. Last month we spent so much on groceries I was appalled! So bad, I won’t even tell you! I decided there has to be a way to still maintain a healthy diet but keep it within a reasonable budget. So the past few weeks I have been doing a little research and a little trial and error to come up with these tips for you. I am well on my way to cutting our grocery bill in half from last month and I am not sacrificing my waistline to do it!
1. Shop the specials, buy what’s in season and use coupons – the trifecta of savings! Stores will often buy too much produce or pass savings that they get from growers onto you. So pay attention to those flashy little specials signs or check out the specials in your daily paper. Buying in season and locally is also a great way to save. Check online coupon sites or clip coupons out of your paper. You may not be as savvy a saver as those crazy people on Extreme Couponing (my new guilty pleasure!) but you can save a little bit here and there.
2. Shop the farmers market. All the fruits and veggies are fresh, local and usually much cheaper than at your grocery store.
3. Meal plan, make a list and check it twice. I never go to the store empty handed. We typically grocery shop on the weekend so I will pick out several recipes that I want to try that following week and get only the things I need. That way I don’t end up with a mish-mash of foods with no plan. After work I can just come home, leaf through my pile of recipes for that week and get cooking. This also avoids any impulse buys that can rack up the bill pretty quickly. We shop on the weekends also to make sure we have plenty of food for the week so we are less likely to become lazy and just end up going out to eat.
4. Shop the bulk bins. When you just need a teaspoon of this or a cup of that I always shop the bulk bins. There is no reason to buy a huge container of something if it’s an ingredient that you rarely use.
5. Grow your own. I can’t tell you how much we have saved on basil by growing out own! Even on our tiny city balcony we were able to grow several basil plants that have lasted all summer. And the stuff grows like a weed, we can hardly keep up.
6. Freeze, don’t waste. If my bananas are starting to brown I will just peel them and put them in a baggie in the freezer for smoothies. I can’t stand throwing away food and I have found that you can pretty much freeze anything. I have a bag of broccoli ends and other veggies we weren’t able to eat in time that I have saved in the freezer to make a veggie soup with later.
7. Work the perimeter, cut back on processed. The healthiest food in the grocery store is on the perimeter, all of the processed food is in the aisles. Processed food does add up even though it is typically cheaper than healthier options and they do nothing for your figure…
8. Don’t be a brand diva. This is hard for most people, we are such a brand-driven society but the truth is, canned beans are canned beans no matter how you dress them up. Pick the store brand and save at the cash register, you won’t notice the difference in taste.
9. Be a pack rat. Portion out your own snacks rather than buying the 100-calorie packs. This is where I utilize the bin trick. I will get dried fruit and nuts from the bulk bins and make my own healthy trail mix to snack on. Also, double your recipes and eat the leftovers for lunch the next day. Sometimes it actually tastes better the next day because the food sits over night and the flavors really develop.
10. Don’t buy pre-cut fruits and veggies. Instead cut them yourself and save. It only takes a few minutes and they are fresher that way in my opinion. The other day I bought cantaloupe 2 for 1 and it’s just mouthwatering!
What are some of your tips and tricks?