Here’s the next installment of my Grocery Shopping 101 series! If you missed the first three posts, here they are:
It might seem like saving money at the grocery store takes a lot of time and effort. Ok, sometimes, it does, but it’s worth it because you don’t waste money or food. It gets easier too. I promise! I’ve been shopping this way for my whole life, so it’s second nature to me. It doesn’t usually take me more than 10 minutes each week to plan it all out— and, I swear, every minute is worth it!
With that said, saving money at the grocery store is all about rethinking the quantity of food that you buy. For the most part, I only buy what I need for one week. But, at the same time, I’m constantly looking for deals on my favorite staples, so I can stock up, which saves me money in the long run. (Plus, we never run out of essential foods like peanut butter and oatmeal!) It’s all about knowing when to BUY LESS and when to BUY MORE.
Rethink Quantity on Perishable Items
Do you really need that huge bunch of bananas or a whole pound of deli meat? Buying in bulk is not always the most cost effective option if the food is never eaten! Instead, I buy what I need for the upcoming week.
For instance, I buy 3/4 pound of deli meat, which is usually more than enough for our lunches for the week. Plus, if we run out, we can always pack something else for lunch, which is much better than throwing away spoiled deli meat. Additionally, any recipe that calls for a pound of meat can easily be substituted with less. I don’t even notice the difference. And, of course, those few dollars of savings really add up!
The same goes for fresh produce: only buy what you will eat in one week. Personally, I buy a lot of produce to encourage myself to eat more of it. (I can’t stand to see food go to waste, so it works for me!) Research from the American Dietetic Association shows that when families add more fruits and vegetables to their diets, their food budgets shrink by 25% (and their waistlines get smaller). Just make sure you EAT all of the produce you buy. Wasted food = wasted money.
Stock Up On Your Favorites
I know you’ve heard the old ‘make a list and stick to it’ tip when grocery shopping. It’s a great piece advice that I keep in mind, but I also make sure to stock up on my favorite products when they go on sale.
For example, Mal and I plow through Teddie Peanut Butter, coffee, and rolled oats like it’s our job, so when they go on sale, I made sure to buy them even if we haven’t run out yet. I know that we’re going to eat these items at some point (and they don’t spoil), so I might as well stock up and save a little money.
Plus, sometimes there are deals that I just can’t turn down. A few weeks ago, New England Coffee was on sale 3 for $11, which was a serious deal. Mal and I drink iced coffee every morning and we love the New England Coffee flavors, so I didn’t hesitate to stock up.
I also take advantage of Buy One, Get One Free deals on my favorite items, like Arnold bread. I mean, the store was giving me a FREE loaf of bread! (With bread, I throw one loaf in the freezer for later, so it doesn’t spoil.)
But, remember, stocking up on items only works if you USE them. Otherwise, you are wasting money and space in your house!
Buy Items in Bulk
As you know, I’m all about unit price, especially on staples and items that I know I will use. For example, a couple of week ago, a whole bag of russet potatoes was on sale for just $1.98. Less than $2 for five pounds of potatoes!? Sign me up! I love potatoes and knew I would eat them before they went bad, so it made sense to buy so many. And, as you’ve seen on the blog, I’ve incorporated them into quite a lot of meals. Meal planning at its finest, baby.
Unit price also works on non-food items, so I stocked up on fancy Hefty trash bags. I usually buy the cheapy store brand, but the Hefty ones were less expensive per unit. I also bought a huge box because I know we’d use them at some point. Trash bags don’t go bad.
How do you rethink quantity when shopping for groceries?