Forget coupons, these healthy grocery habits will have you saving tons of money with little effort. Change the way you think about meal planning and grocery shopping. Use your savings on your debt snowball and live like no one else. What are you afraid of?
Print the list at the end of the article for future reference. I have mine taped to the inside of my cupboard.
1. Take everything out of your pantry.
After you have removed everything, wipe down the shelves. As you put items back, look at the expiration date. Toss the expired items and pay attention to what you put back. You can make a list of items that you have forgotten about if you wish.
What did you do? First you cleaned your dirty pantry, congrats! Second, by tossing your expired items, the guilt you are feeling for wasting money and food will help you not to over shop in the near future. I actually recommend doing this trick twice a year. I own three bottles of catsup. Third, now that some of these items that were forgotten about and not expired are on the forefront of your mind. Get on the internets and the YouTubes and search for a recipe with that item.
2. Shop at a bare bones market like WinCo or Aldi.
These minimalist markets have streamlined business costs and are passing the savings to you. They usually don’t take credit cards and you have to bag your own groceries. There isn’t much marketing toward kids so you may get out of the store under budget if you have to shop with small kids, which I advise against doing. Partner up with a friend and take turns shopping, leave the greedy kids or grandkids at home.
3. Learn to cook from scratch.
I’m not talking about grinding your own wheat but divorce yourself from convenience foods. They are usually twice as expensive as making or chopping these foods yourself. Just compare whole fresh fruit vs. pre-chopped fruit. Or check out the difference per oz. of boxed, flavored couscous and couscous in the bulk aisle. Huge difference.
Nervous about cooking from scratch? Check out the YouTubes, any idiot can cook with this gem of a resource. You can always check out my other site Fusion.Craftiness.com where I show you how to cook World-Inspired cuisine with step-by-step photos. There is also Mark Bittman’s fabulous book How to Cook Everything which is basically fool-proof, I even bought it for my darling fledgling.
4. Grow your own herbs.
This is actually something anybody can do. Apartment dwellers, black thumbs, kids etc. Herbs grow great in a South-facing window or on a balcony that’s in full sun. They grow easily in pots or in the ground. Water them once or twice a week and that’s it. You can fertilize them but usually the soil they come with has 3 months of fertilizer added to it. If you can’t remember to fertilize, you can always use those fertilizer sticks.
Fresh herbs are expensive so if you cook from scratch, you will likely want some fresh herbs. Anything left at the end of Summer can be dried in a dehydrator, oven or hung upside down to dry in a sunny area.
5. Shop online and pick up at the store.
This helps in two ways. It cuts the impulse buying for you and anybody you are with to zero. It also lets you see how much you are spending before you pay. You can ‘put stuff back’ before you pay, skipping the embarrassment at the cash register.
6. Go vegetarian, for a meal or two.
Face it. You don’t need meat at every meal. Meat is expensive to your wallet and the planet, especially beef. Change it up and cook vegetarian dinners once in awhile, ‘Meatless Monday’ is a real thing.
7. Eat leftovers for lunch.
When I stopped eating out for lunch, I saved $27 per week. That’s $108 per month or $1,404 per year for one person. Yikes! If you are a power couple, multiply that by two.
8. Buy generic groceries and dry goods in the bulk aisle.
Too easy. The savings are up to %50.
The bulk aisle is fantastic for spices, nuts, freekeh, buckwheat, rice, bulgur, polenta, beans, lentils, oats, potato flakes, cereal, pasta etc. Branch out from plain, white rice, embrace all these other grains you have neglected.
9. Only buy meat when it’s on sale.
Every week grocery stores usually have a meat that they put on sale. Check out their online circular to find out what’s the weekly special. Stock up on that meat and store in the freezer.
Also, boneless, skinless chicken thighs are cheaper than chicken breast and taste much better too. They have more flavor and are more juicy. If these are on sale, buy as much as your freezer allows. Chicken is healthier for you and the planet.
10. Shop alone.
Do you really need an explanation for this one?
11. Skip pre-packaged individual snacks.
Make your own in bulk.
12. Look down.
The bottom shelf has cheaper goods. The companies whose products are at eye-level pay a premium for that spot and pass the costs to you.
13. Gather some cheap recipes for your arsenal.
Finding fantastic recipes using cheap ingredients has never been easier. Search online for lentil, chicken and root vegetable recipes. Get out of your comfort zone, learn some new skills. Save your favorite cheap recipes and use them throughout the month to save money.
- Clean out your pantry. Only put back what isn't expired. Cook your way through your pantry or donate the food you know you won't use. This will help you not over shop going forward and you will have a nice, clean pantry to start with.
- Shop at a bare bones market like WinCo or Aldi. They pass the savings on to you through lower prices than your neighborhood market.
- Learn to cook from scratch. Processed and convenience foods are much more expensive than cooking from scratch. With over 3 million food bloggers and Pinterest, there has never been an easier time to cook from scratch. Chances are you will eat healthier too.
- Grow your own herbs. When you start cooking from scratch you will appreciate not having to buy fresh herbs.
- Shop online and pick up at the store. This cuts down on impulse buying and you can see the savings before you enter your payment.
- Eat leftovers for lunch. It will be much better for you than your works cafeteria plus you will save quite a bit of money.
- Go vegetarian for a meal or two per week. Meat is expensive.
- Buy generic groceries instead of name brand. Shop in the bulk aisle. This is much cheaper than buying name brand pre-packaged food.
- Only buy meat when it's on sale and stock up. Don't forget to stock up on boneless, skinless chicken thighs which is much cheaper than chicken breast and tastier too.
- Skip pre-packaged individual snacks.
- Look down. The cheaper food is not at eye level.
- Shop alone. Leave the grandkids or your impulse shopping partner at home.
- Gather some cheap recipes for your arsenal. Use recipe searches like Pinterest, Foodgawker or Google. Search for recipes using the cheap stuff in the bulk aisle.
- You can definitely use coupons. Be careful that you aren't over shopping for the sake of saving a few dollars. If you waste food, nobody wins.
- YouTube is a fantastic resource for learning all about new ingredients or recipes. Branch out and learn to cook couscous, freekeh, quinoa, barley etc.
- Eat your favorite dishes once in awhile. You don't want to feel deprived. You should be able to find tasty cheaper meals with a little research.