Most of us are looking for ways to save on the weekly grocery bill. If you tally up your grocery store categories, you’ll probably notice that meat and produce are consistently the most expensive. But there are ways to save even beyond coupons and sales, if you know where to look!
More Meat for Your Money
Tired of pouring so much cash into those choice cuts of beef and pork your family adores? There are a number of ways you can cut down your grocery bill on these items.
One of the most immediately obvious ways to cut down your meat expenditures is simply to bring a little more vegetarianism into your life. If your family is used to eating meat with every dinner, introducing a meatless meal once a week can significantly cut down your bill each week. Take advantage of other great sources of protein, such as beans and tofu, so that your family doesn’t lose the nutritional benefits.
Make the meat you do buy stretch between more days by using more fillers – like tofu, bread crumbs, or even oatmeal – to have that same filling effect with less meat. You can also stretch out those servings of meat simply by cutting it into smaller portions – try your favorite pasta or soup with cuts of meat half or even a third of the size you would normally use.
When you see a great sale, stock up on meat while you can, and freeze the extra! If your family likes turkey, for example, look for the best prices of the year after Thanksgiving or Christmas. If your kids’ mouths start watering at the mere mention of ham, buy an extra one or two immediately after Easter for a great price.
Though it may seem like a better deal to buy less lean meats, it’s better for both your health and your wallet to buy the leanest meat possible. The cheaper, less lean, meat is full of fat that your family isn’t going to be eating, so when you buy it you’re getting far less food. Instead of buying the more expensive precut or ground meats, buy cheaper cuts and either grind them yourself or soften them up with your crockpot.
If you have the freezer space, you could consider going to your local farmer and buying a side of beef. (This is also something you could go in on with your neighbors if you don’t want to be eating the same cow for the next year.) Not only will you be helping your community by buying local, but you can actually save a significant amount of money over the course of the year this way – that’s a lot of food!
More Value for Your Veggies
It can be difficult to maintain the balance between cheaper packaged foods and more expensive and time-sensitive fruits and vegetables. Fortunately, there are easy ways to keep more in your wallet for these too.
One of the best things you can do – both for your finances and for the quality of your meals – is to learn when your favorite produce is in season. When your favorite fresh staples are in season, there will be an overabundance of great-tasting produce that drives down the price. Off-season goods rarely taste as delicious, and because there’s less of it, the price goes up.
Shake off wet produce before buying it. If you buy soaking wet heads of lettuce, you’re paying by weight for a lot of water.
Many people recommend shopping at farmers’ markets, and while I certainly agree, be wary because the prices aren’t often as good as promised. However, if you go to farmers’ markets at less busy times, such as close to closing time and in bad weather, you are more likely to see good deals.
Starting a garden can save you money, but you get out what you put into it. Because it can be hard to find the space for larger vegetables, and you may not find yourself in need of 30 squashes or 50 tomatoes over the course of a single summer, I recommend gardening your herbs. Think about it: fresh herbs are one of the most expensive parts of a grocery trip by volume, and if you’re like my family, you probably buy them a lot. A potted basil or mint plant is easy to care for inside, or you can plant it outdoors – just be sure to set some humane animal traps to protect them from curious (and hungry!) visitors!
Do all your veggies need to be fresh? Consider frozen or canned vegetables for soups, casseroles, stir fries, and other dishes.
Like I said for meat, if you see a great sale on your favorite fruit, buy in bulk! You can freeze, can, dehydrate, or throw what’s left over into smoothies and keep enjoying it for weeks or months!
Finally, although they can be attractive choices when you want to be healthy and eco-conscious, you can save a lot by only springing for organic when necessary. You have probably heard that some items, such as peaches or apples, are far more likely to be contaminated by pesticides than corn or pineapples, which both have thick outer coverings. Save money by not bothering to guy organic corn, which isn’t likely to have as much of a positive impact as other items.
Guest post by Adrienne Erin who is a health- and wallet-conscious blogger who loves to cook. Since graduating from her accredited online college last summer, she has gone on to make a mark with her writing, which has been featured on MarketingProfs, Content Marketing Institute, and other great blogs. To see her latest work, you can follow her on Twitter under the name @adrienneerin.