As promised….How to grocery shop on a budget!
The first big grocery shop that you do is going to be expensive, probably around $120 dollars. But if you cough up that money and follow these tips, you won’t have to spend over $70 after that! These are my tips and tricks when I’m at the store. Please message me if you have some, I’d love to add to this list!
Buy frozen foods: I buy all my vegetables frozen. I also keep any type of bread product frozen and thaw it out as I need it. I throw out so much food because I don’t eat it in time. If you can buy it frozen, do. You save money and food this way. Check the labels to make sure you’re getting a quality product (no added sugar, flash frozen, etc.)
Take stock: What do you have? What do you absolutely need? Why the hell is there so much chicken in my freezer? What can you live without?
Buy sale items in bulk: We all know how expensive chicken breast can get. My favorite trick is to stock up on chicken breast when it’s on sale and freeze them in individual baggies to use when I need them. It might cost a few extra dollars now, but you’ll be smirking to yourself when you see people buying chicken for twice the price you paid. The same goes for cheese, another pricey item. Pasta and tuna are also some of my favs to stock up on.
Eggs. that is all.
Eat before you shop! Seriously, who hasn’t heard this tip? If you shop after a meal, you won’t have omgineedfoodrightnowfeeeeeedmeeee, goggles on.
Have the same dinner all week: This is something that has worked wonders for me. I plan what I am going to have for dinner and make tiny changes so I can keep the extra food purchases to a minimum. For example, I buy a pack of boca burgers every week. I change up the variety and the sides. I generally plan 2 or 3 days of food and then make different combinations of that food every day until I run out. (As an added bonus, I read in cosmo once (they are all knowing don’t even try to argue with me) that people who eat the same foods tend to not overeat because they aren’t overly excited about what they’re eating.)
Plan meals that have similar ingredients: this is similar to the last one. Make sure you aren’t buying meals that have completely separate (and costly) ingredients. For example, have all italian food one week, mexican the next. I was so guilty of having completely different meals when I first started eating healthy that I was spending way more than I should every week on food.
Leftovers! Don’t just throw out your leftover dinner. Put it in a salad, a sandwich, a wrap, a soup, the possibilities are endless! My favorite is when I have tacos, and the next day I use the leftovers to make a taco salad.
Shop Around: This is where time comes into play. I suggest taking your “bare bones” grocery list (things that you buy every week), and going to all the different grocery stores in the area and comparing prices. I’ve found that buying Special K is much less expensive at Costco than it is at Stop and Shop. Almond Milk is almost 75% less expensive at Trader Joes than Big Y. Big Y has crazy sales, Stop and Shop has good every day deals. Wal-Mart is good for those more expensive products you can’t ever find on sale.
Beans, beans beans! This is an EXCELLENT source of protein and SUPER cheap. If you have a dish, there’s a bean for that. This is a great substitute if you can’t afford meat.
Buy your foods unprepared: I will never understand the precut fruits and vegetables already assembled. If you are guilty of this, you are wasting SO MUCH MONEY! Take the time to buy things unprepared, and prepare it yourself. Don’t be lazy, know exactly what YOU are preparing. Plus, it’s usually more fresh.
Buy store brand: Yes, there are some things that you can’t find store brand, but if you can, buy it. Food companies and the grocery store get together and put the grocery store label on their food, true story. I’m not kidding. Same food, different package.
Buy in season: Asparagus in November is going to be expensive, but much less so in April and May. Cherries in February are not even worth considering, but much more affordable in Juen. Don’t buy packaged salad mixes or even bagged pre-washed lettuce. Buy the lettuce by the head. Check out farmers markets for some good deals on fresh, local produce. I sacrifice my berry eating for the most part in the winter just because prices are so ridiculous. I’ve also done the math, bagged apples and oranges tend to be less expensive than the loose variety. Plum tomatoes are also less expensive than most other varieties.
ALWAYS keep your eyes peeled for sales/coupons: I only buy most of my snack food when it is on sale. Granola bars, hummus, fiber one bars, they’re all expensive! This takes some flexibility with what you eat, but it also keeps things interesting not having the same thing every week. Look online for coupons, in magazines, make sure you have the grocery store savings card.
Start making things yourself: This can get tricky calorie wise, but if you’re up for the challenge, there are certain things you can make for almost nothing such as salsa, bread, nut butters, etc.
Don’t be gluttonous: I used to be guilty of this. If you have 2 snacks in your house, don’t buy another one. If you have eggs and cereal, you don’t need more breakfast items. Keep it simple, silly!
Go shopping on Friday night/early in the morning: Less people on a Friday night (or any night) and you can scoop up the Saturday deals before anyone else. Being an early bird also lets you snag those produce items from yesterday for almost nothing. These are usually located on a rack somewhere around the produce section. My mom and I once bought asparagus within 12 hours of each other. I paid 7 dollars, she paid 2. Mine went rotten first, true story.
Herbs/Spices: almost never have any calories, and keeps your food interesting!
I no longer shop with a grocery list because I am pretty set in my ways and can make meals without recipes, this also leaves me flexibility with what I end up getting because I am only looking at sales. So that’s why I’m not suggesting you make a list, but if that works for you, then do!
Remember: be creative, be flexible, be smart!