With food prices on the rise, it’s getting harder than ever to buy food that will keep you healthy and satisfied. But rather than blowing your last $100 on your biweekly shopping trip (when you’d really rather blow it at the bar), see if you can cut down those grocery expenses with a few easy life hacks!
Clipping coupons isn’t for your parents anymore — you can find great coupons in newspapers and magazines, on company websites, through social media, and even in store aisles. What’s even better is that you can get around the “one per purchase” rule by using a manufacturer coupon on top of a store coupon for double the savings. And always sign up for the loyalty card at your local store — it will get you all of the sales that you didn’t even realize were listed, saving major dough.
You can do this even if you live in a shoe box-sized apartment in a big city where the closest thing you have to a yard is a cement park 10 blocks down. All you need is an area that gets good sunlight and some cheap plastic pots. You can grow a wide variety of plants this way, including lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, basil, rosemary, mint, and more.
As long as they have a long shelf life, when you see that four-for-$5 deal on boxes of pasta, stock up. It’ll keep perfectly fine in your cupboards for months on end (and will save you the hassle of fighting with your neighbors for provisions as the next blizzard approaches), and you won’t have to pick up a new box every time you run out. But for things that go bad quickly, it’s not necessarily a great idea unless you plan to use it all right away. So maybe skip the four-for-$5 deal on gallons of milk.
Do you know how many ways you can cook potatoes? Fried, mashed, baked, boiled, gratin…the list goes on. And do you know how cheap potatoes are? Depending on the type, they average around 30 cents apiece. Though they’re not packed with nutrients, they’re a great addition to a meal to help fill you up, and if you keep preparing them in different ways, you’ll never get bored.
Dried beans are sold in massive bags for pennies to the pound, and are super easy to make in massive quantities. Boil a big pot of beans and freeze the leftovers to use throughout the month to add quick and tasty protein to your meals. Whether you throw them in a soup, salad, taco, or munch them down plain, they’ll become an easy staple in your diet.
It’s annoying when we can’t get a delicious melon in the middle of December, but it’s for a reason. Produce is not only tastier when it’s in season, it’s also cheaper. It means that your fruits and veggies can be grown locally, cutting down on the added transport charges (and helping out the environment), rather than trucking them in from tropical climates across the world.
Most people know not to go to the grocery store when they’re hungry for fear of buying out anything and everything (this doesn’t necessarily hold true for stores that are generous with free samples — I’m looking at you Costco and Trader Joe’s), but you want to be in the right frame of mind before grabbing a cart. When you’re tired or angry, you’ll probably lean towards indulgent purchases rather than what you actually need, and being in a rush means you won’t have time to compare prices.
Non-food items such as laundry detergent, toothpaste, medicine, and so on are usually available at grocery stores, but for a higher price tag. Make an extra trip and head to another store to pick up those items rather than throwing them in with your bread and eggs (same goes for vice versa – buying food at a CVS is almost always more expensive than at a grocery store, and usually worse quality).
As convenient as it is to pick up a bag of lettuce or pre-sliced apples, it adds unnecessary dollars to your grocery bill. Buying the items separately and preparing them yourself is always cheaper, and remember that you can always freeze things you make in excess. Save the packaged deals for when you’re in a serious rush, but take the extra five minutes to rip up your own lettuce.
When you’re checking out with a cart overflowing with food, it’s not uncommon for the clerk to make a mistake while ringing you up. Whether it’s accidentally scanning something twice, or not acknowledging an item that was marked on sale, pay attention while you’re at the register and look over the receipt before you leave the store. It may be such a small error that doesn’t seem worth correcting in the grand scheme of things, but the little things add up.