After carrying all seven bags on each arm, stumbling up the steps, and reaching my kitchen, I just love stocking my refrigerator and pantry with the new food I just purchased from the grocery store. Don’t you?! Ahh… look at those beautiful strawberries, the perfectly whipped humus. Those sea salt caramels will last me all week (yeah, right!). Since I don’t shop for clothes or shoes like I used to, grocery shopping excites me. I mean, come on: haven’t you ever walked into Whole Foods and suddenly been overcome with giddiness?
Until the cashier utters the words, “That’ll be three hundred and forty three dollars, please,” and you realize you just spent your child’s college fund on raw honey and hemp powder.
Well, I’m here to tell you there’s no reason your groceries should break the bank. If you want to spend less on groceries, there are a few things you must do first: switch grocery stores, simplify your diet, plan your meals in advance, and purchase seasonal produce.
A brand new and improved ALDI just opened in my neighborhood. Confession: I’ve never shopped at ALDI before for actual groceries—I always stuck to my tried and true Jewel. But when I went in last week and found organic produce, healthy whole wheat bread, and sea salt caramels that rivaled Trader Joe’s, I decided to give it a shot. I bought everything I normally would during a weekly trip to Jewel, and was pleasantly surprised that my bill was cut in half. Maybe I wasn’t surprised that ALDI was so inexpensive, but I was surprised by how all the food I purchased tasted delicious. The chocolate—European standard delicious. The wine? Good (not exquisite, but good). The bread? Healthy and delicious. The Greek yogurt—very good. The produce? Fresh and tasty! Why wasn’t I shopping here before?
While I will now go to ALDI for my paper goods (49 cents for a paper towel roll as opposed to $1 at Jewel), and most essentials, there are still some items I’ll have to purchase elsewhere (lunch meat, coffee, honey, pure maple syrup).
Though I’m not a fan of driving all over the city (wastes gas and is inefficient), I can plan my route to ALDI first since it’s down the block from where I live, purchase what I can there, and then drive to Jewel to purchase the remainder groceries. It’s takes more time and gas, but it’s worth it. In the end, it’s efficient and cost-effective.
Simplifying Your Grocery List
Eating clean keeps you fit and reduces your grocery bill. I try to buy whole foods, lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and lean meats, and make pretty simple, straightforward meals. They taste good, they’re quick and easy, and cost less in the end.
By simplifying your grocery list, you can cut your grocery bill in half and eat a healthier diet. Here’s how:
— Buy cheaper cuts of meat, like steak tips, chicken thighs.
— Eat less meat
— Buy more poultry than red meat
Fruits & Veggies:
— Buy fruits and veggies that are in season: When you buy fruits and vegetables that are in season (like berries in summer and apples in autumn), you not only save money, but also can expect fresher produce.
— Stick to 2-3 fruits and vegetables per week. There are so many delicious fruits and veggies to choose from, but you don’t need to purchase more than you can eat in a week. Rotate your choices; buy apples and grapes one week, bananas and berries the next.
— If organic matters to you, only buy the pricier organic brands when it comes to fruits and vegetables you can’t peel.
Buy Store Brand When You Can
Did you know that most store brand over-the-counter drugs are exactly the same as their more expensive name-brand counterparts? You can save a few dollars by purchasing store-brand medicine like ibuprofen, and at the end of the year those few dollars could add up to hundreds.
It might seem obvious that plastic and paper food storage and supplies are cheaper than name-brand, but exactly the same.
Most store-brand cooking and baking items, like flour and sugar, are exactly the same as their name-brand competitors. Choose store-brand to save money.
Eat Oatmeal Instead of Cereal
Cereal is often over-priced and sugar laden. Ditch cereal and replace it with oatmeal, a whole-grain, fiber-packed hunger squashing super-food. Okay, maybe it’s not technically a super-food, but it is super food. Starting your day off with oatmeal (with a touch of cinnamon and honey) is not only nutritious and delicious, but it’s also cheap and easy.
Don’t Buy Expensive Beverages – Make Your Own
Instead of buying expensive iced teas and sodas, make your own! Purchase fruity-flavored tea bags by the bulk, brew and ice your own tea, and add simple syrup. You’ll save tons of money and also have control of just how much sugar goes into your beverage. Here’s a recipe to make an iced pomegranate tea, rivaling Starbucks!
Go for the Cheaper or Boxed Wine/Purchase Alcohol at Liquor Stores, not Supermarkets
Buy your alcohol at liquor stores rather than the grocery store for significantly cheaper prices.
The higher the price tag, the better the wine? We all know that isn’t true. Lots of wine less than $10 is just as tasty as fancier bottles. And boxed wine? Saves you money and trips to the liquor store.
Plan Your Meals in Advance
When you know what you will be making for breakfast, lunch, and dinner the upcoming week, you can stick to buying those items, no more. Planning out your meals not only helps you save money at the grocery store, but it keeps you organized, saves you time during the week, and might even help keep you from overeating.
Shelter and food are top priorities when it comes to spending. If you can help it, however, you shouldn’t spend half your paycheck on groceries, especially if you wind up purchasing more than you can eat before they rot or expire. Simplify your diet, plan your meals in advance, shop at less expensive stores, and buy in season to reduce your grocery bill. I promise, when it’s time to stock the fridge, it will be even more joyous knowing how much money you saved!
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