I used to hate grocery shopping.
When I think back to those early days when I first started venturing into this world of kale-eating... I remember the whole experience feeling so intimidating and overwhelming. I'd wander around aimlessly, no clue what the heck I was doing.
Then, an hour + later I'd end up back home with a bunch of random stuff. Some of it got used, and the rest would sit until it got all witty and gross and it was time to throw it out.
I wasted a lot of food. A lot of time too, worrying over whether or not I was buying the right things, what did all these words like "natural" and "cage-free" even mean? Should I be buying this organic?
I had so many questions.
I figured them out, over time, but I realize now it would have been a heck of a lot easier if someone could have just shown me the ropes from the get go.
Which is why I now love and consider it such a privilege to get to be that guide I so badly needed for other people.
Anyway, this is the kind of stuff you'd learn on a tour. Thought I'd share these little money-saving tips to give you a taste. Here they are....
5 Ways To Save Big Bucks The Next Time You Go Grocery Shopping
Don't Buy What You Don't Want
Did you know you don't have to buy the broccoli stems, or the whole thing of cabbage? If there's a part of the produce that you know you won't use and will likely go to waste, you can ask someone working at the store to cut it for you. I used to do this with broccoli stems before I wised up and figured out there's so much you can do with them (make chips, slaw, rice... that's a whole other post now come to think of it...). Same goes for those big bags of grapes and cherries - just take out what you want and leave the rest.
Buy Your Fruit Whole
Pre-cut fruit and veggies are the most marked up items in the grocery store. I once noticed that one of those little bitty cartons of melon cost MORE than the whole melon. And you get 4-6x as much melon when you buy the whole melon. Melon should be one of the least expensive items in the grocery store. In pre-cut form it's one of the most expensive though. I know what you're thinking and I get it... but TIME. I'm talking 5-10 minutes to cut up a melon though. And in pre-cut pricing that gets you nearly $20 worth of fruit. For $3. I'd say that's worth it, don't you?
Go For Frozen Fruit & Veggies
Frozen items are usually less expensive and can even have better nutrition because they're frozen at the peak of freshness compared to fresh produce that's traveled, sat on the shelf and every day degraded in nutritional value. Fruit, especially in the winter months, is a lot cheaper to buy frozen. You can also buy it fresh in the summer and freeze it yourself and save that way too.
Save on Organic
Whether or not it's worth it to buy organic is a question I get asked quite often. My answer is sometimes yes, sometimes no - it depends what it is. In general, if you eat the skin, I say organic is worth it to avoid ingesting those pesticides. If it's something that you wouldn't eat the skin, like a banana or avocado, you can skip the organic and save a little. The Environmental Working Group puts out two lists every year of the produce with the most and the least amount of pesticide residue: The Dirty Dozen and The Clean Fifteen. Check them out before the next time you shop to know where to splurge and where to save. More on why organic here.
Shop the Bulk Section
You can find significant savings shopping the bulk section (ie. the aisle with all the bins of nuts, grains, flours, snacks and jars of spices.) When you buy off the shelf a lot of what you're paying for is the packaging. When you cut that out and you're just paying for the food itself, it gets a lot less expensive. Not to mention, skipping the packaging is greener too. I find the biggest savings in bulk on my spices (more on my spice strategy here). It's so nice to get a refill of cinnamon for $1 versus $5!
Want More Tips on How to Save and Shop Smarter?
Share Your Own Tips
I'd love to hear - what are your own tips and tricks to save at the store? Share them with us in the comments, will you? Thanks!!
Megan Adams Brown, CHC, helps people take charge of their health and to start listening to themselves over the latest diet trend to optimize their own wellness, happiness and potential. Her family-friendly meal plans help parents take charge in the kitchen, too. This leads to more vegetables, less junk, and happier, healthier kids and parents. Megan shares kid-approved, allergy-friendly recipes on her blog. To learn more click here.