It’s been quite the whirlwind of a week/weekend. We closed on our house on Friday, signed all the papers, and officially got the keys. We’re having some of the rooms painted now and planning on officially moving in this week. Aside from moving a few boxes and doing my long run for the week, most of my nights looked like this:
I have so many recipe ideas in my brain right now, so bear with me! I can’t wait to put some of them into action in the new kitchen, and show you all pictures. I’m excited to fill the new fridge and cabinets with good food and drink, and I will definitely be following some of these tips for that big grocery store visit.
How To Save Money at the Grocery Store:
Don’t go hungry (aka hangry)
Everyone has heard this one, right? If I go after a run, it’s pretty probably that I’m going to come home with gallons of ice cream, boxes of cereal, and many other foods I don’t necessarily need or aren’t on the grocery list for the week. Let your mind guide your grocery shopping, not your stomach.
Make a list and stick to it
Sometimes I’ll use a written list, sometimes I’ll put it on notepad in my phone. Either way, if I don’t have something to go by, I’m bound to forget something or buy ingredients that I didn’t plan on using for the week and I hateeee food waste!
Here’s an example of my typical list. Most of these are staples; some of the other ingredients change weekly depending on what I want to make.
I tell my clients that planning ahead has multiple purposes and benefits. Firstly, it prevents food waste because you have pre-thought about what ingredients you want to have and use for the week. Secondly, it prevents the need to stop at the grocery store on the way home from work 4 days a week trying to figure out what to make for dinner. Thirdly, it allows you to cook or bake in bulk to have foods for lunches, dinners or whatever suits your lifestyle. I got these cute little lists as a stocking stuffer and I actually find them super helpful for planning meals.
Many people prefer Sunday food prep. I actually prefer Mondays, because I don’t like to give up a whole weekend day, but it’s whatever works for you. It doesn’t need to be a whole day, and can be as simple as making 2 cups of quinoa, 3 cans of black beans, and roasting a few sweet potatoes and heads of broccoli to have on hand for the week.
Or, it may just be pre-chopping vegetables so you save the time of doing it every night. I just love roasting a bunch of vegetables together, sprinkled with some olive oil, salt, pepper, italian seasoning and garlic powder. It does all the work for you!
It takes the same amount of time to cook 1 chicken and 1 sweet potato, as it does 5, or to roast one head of broccoli verses 5-6 cups of vegetables, so just do it all at once versus firing up grill or oven each time.
Buy In Bulk
It pays to belong to Sams, Costco, BJ’s because you can truly buy in bulk. Generally, meats are one of most expensive things in grocery store, so it’s a prime candidate for buying in bulk. It is easy to freeze meat, so why not stock up on meat when it’s on sale?
Buy apples in bags rather than individually to save money. You can get a bag of apples for under $3 at Trader Joe’s! Similarly, buy a tub of (plain) yogurt rather than spending $1.00 on each 6 ounce serving size, and flavor your own to save money and sugar!
Buy In Season
Buying in season is much cheaper because the produce doesn’t have to travel as far. I have written about the benefits of buying local. For things that aren’t in season, consider buying frozen or canned (if you buy canned, always rinse them to rid of extra sodium). The Department of Agriculture is a great resource for seeing what is in season in your area!
Utilize coupons or buy when things are on sale
Even if you don’t necessarily need something, if it’s something you typically consume and it’s on sale, like BOGO or buy three, get one free, it’s probably worth buying (as long as it’s shelf or freezer stable). However, coupons can be dangerous in that they may entice you to buy you don’t necessarily need. Remember that just because you have a coupon for something doesn’t mean you have to use it. I can’t tell you how many coupons I have for frozen pizzas, granola bars (that should basically be candy bars) and processed foods. I will be skipping those coupons.
Items generally go on sale every 8 weeks. You can bet like clockwork that whenever I get the email for my grocery store’s weekly deals (sign up for your grocery store’s weekly email list!), I look to see what we eat that I can stock up on. For Ed, if his favorite cereal (Quaker Oat Squares) is on sale, he buys 12 boxes. Literalllly – 12 boxes. But it works because by the time he’s gone through them all, they are on sale again. We are a binge buying household!
Know How to Navigate the Grocery Stores
Generally, the cheapest stuff is on the bottom shelves. Grocery stores put marked up items, or items that are pricier, on eye-level shelves because that’s where our eyes naturally go. Don’t fall for these tricks!
Choose store brands over name brands for most things. The ingredients are similar and you save dollars, which add up over time!
Stick to portion sizes
Most people are eating larger portions that they were 50 years ago. Restaurants are serving larger portions across the board. But think about it – if we stick to the recommended serving or portion size, our food goes further and there is less food waste. Start with 1/2 cup of rice on your plate. If you’re still hungry, then definitely go get more, but there’s no need to serve yourself 1 1/2 cups from the get go.
If you buy 16 ounces of meat, consider that the serving size for meat is about 3-4 ounces. Therefore, rather than use that entire meat for one meal for yourself and another, spread it to four serving sizes and two meals. Also, pair it with a carbohydrate serving and fruits/vegetables for a balanced plate, so you don’t feel the need to overeat one particular food group.
I use something similar to this infograph with my clients. It’s an easy way to estimate if you’re eating out.
Similarly, if you’re eating out at restaurants, saving half of your meal for leftovers also stretches your money and gives you an easy lunch or dinner for the following day. Most restaurants serve 8-12 oz portions of meat, so you can definitely stretch that out. You can see my restaurant tips here.
Grow Your Own (and Make Your Own!)
Once our move is complete, I have reallllly big aspirations of planting some herbs and mini plants. I wouldn’t say I have a green thumb so this will be a work in progress, but how great would it be to just pick your own herbs whenever you need them, rather than buying them? It can also be a great activity for the family and children, to plant seeds and watch them grow.
Nut butters are getting super expensive, Am I right?! So much more cost efficient to make your own in your food processor. Hummus too!
Some people still think that healthy eating is more expensive, but it’s really not. It’s just about knowing what to look for. Consider these few examples:
- A candy bar is $1.00. A banana is .20.
- Potato chips are ~$2-$3 per large bag. A bag of frozen vegetables is about $1-$1.50.
- A box of cereal can be between $3-$5.00. A store brand tub of oats is $2.00.
- A box of mashed potatoes is about $2.00. You can get a whole potato or sweet potato for about $1.00.
Any other tips to save money at the grocery store?
Favorite type of apple? I love galas, but every now and then I crave a Granny Smith for the tart juiciness!