Grocery shopping can be overwhelming. Many of us are trying to eat at home these days, but we want to know how to enjoy effective grocery shopping to create wonderful, home-cooked meals. The simple chore of buying food involves many variables – where to shop, seasonal options, recipe ingredients, family favorites…the decisions seem endless, especially if you aim to optimize your budget and your health.
However, there is a sweet spot to grocery shopping where well-being meets frugality; here’s how to find it:
1) Buy in season – It’s the basic law of supply and demand: when certain produce is in season locally, the abundance usually makes it less expensive. Additionally, buying locally available fruits and vegetables allows you to experience delicious variety all year round.
2) Buy in bulk – Buying staples like nuts, grains, and legumes in bulk can cut costs because you only pay for the food, not the packaging. It can even be exciting to “DIY” grocery shop!
3) Buy frozen – Frozen produce is often cheaper, and potentially fresher than fresh produce. Strawberries and blueberries, for example, are often frozen immediately after they’re picked, which preserves the nutrients and flavors. Better yet, buy and freeze your own produce when it’s in season!
4) Focus on whole foods – Real, unprocessed food is generally cheaper than packaged alternatives. Making simple choices like brown rice instead of a fancy ciabatta loaf, or an apple instead of a candy bar.
5) Grow a garden – Harvesting your own fruits and vegetables will allow you to eat healthy, seasonal food on a miniscule budget. You will also have constant access to healthy food for your daily meals.
6) Pick your indulgences – Keep your shopping cart ascetic save for a treat or two once a week. Splurge on an ingredient or meal you’ve been meaning to try, and know that the price is worth the taste.
7) Simplify your beverages – The only liquid we truly need to survive is water. Try to replace sodas and bottled teas with water and home-brewed tea to detox your body and replenish your wallet.
8) Portion Control – If you eat less, you will purchase less. Become aware of your true hunger, and only eat what your body really needs.
9) Go meatless – Cutting meat out of your diet even one day a week can have a huge impact on your grocery bill. By substituting beans, legumes, eggs, nuts and seeds for meat, you can save $80-$100 a month for a family of four!
10) Sign up for a CSA – Community Supported Agriculture requires subscribers to pay in advance to support the harvest of local farms. However, once harvesting begins, members receive weekly shares of fruit and vegetables at a lower cost than grocery stores.