6 Tips for Stretching That Dollar in the Grocery Aisle
Everyone needs to eat—but buying groceries for the family can sometimes feel like quite the expense (and an easy one on which to go over budget). However, with a little discipline and planning you can make your dollar go further in the grocery aisles.
Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind during your next grocery trip.
Play “Need vs. Want”
What do you need to eat versus what you want to eat? You don’t need pop in your diet, no matter how much you want to crack open that Mountain Dew. However, you do need water that, lucky for everyone, is cheaper than pop. You don’t need cookies, cake, ice cream and other snack or junk foods, but you do need the nutrients provided by fresh or frozen vegetables, fruits and meats.
Here’s a list of value foods that also provide you with much-needed nutrition.
- Peanut butter
- Corn tortillas
- Potatoes (not fried or in chip form!)
While these items might seem boring on the outside, with a little bit of research (and a handful of two or three awesome spices) you can find plenty of tasty recipes centered around these high-value foods.
Loyalty Cards, Coupons and Specials
Loyalty cards (not credit cards!) are great for shaving dollars off your final receipt. Some grocery stores have gas stations where you can also save money through the store’s loyalty card.
You can also save money by buying store brands as opposed to big brand names. Combine these with coupons and store specials (be sure to check the store’s website or app), and you can save a nice sum at the end of the trip.
Slow Cooker Recipes
Invest in a slow cooker, also often known by the brand name Crock Pot. It’s an incredibly handy piece of kitchen equipment that uses moisture to tenderize less expensive, but tougher cuts of meat. (Although it does take longer, so make sure to plan your meals ahead.)
Add in beans, rice or other vegetables, and you have a full meal that can make smaller portions of meats go further.
Canned and Frozen Foods
In some cases, buying canned or frozen foods can be cheaper than fresh, organic options. Canned and frozen food primarily offers you the benefit of a longer shelf life. You can get a good deal on buying store brand frozen or canned vegetables.
When browsing these long-shelf-life options, try to avoid higher sodium content by keeping an eye out for low-sodium alternatives.
Make sure you browse your grocery aisles for sale items, and load up on items you can store in the pantry and freezer for longer stretches of time. Dried beans and peas, whole-grain pastas, crackers and cereals, brown rice and tomato sauces are good items to buy in larger quantities.
Planning meals ahead of time will allow you to stock up on the right ingredients, use them before expiration and not overbuy.
Avoid Convenience Foods
Making foods from scratch can often be cheaper than buying convenient, pre-prepared foods. Rather than buying canned soup, make your soups from scratch. And if you make more than you think you can eat, you can freeze many foods for eating later.
Trade in the convenience for a little cooking effort, and you can save quite a bit of money. You might even find your homemade food tastes better and is more filling than the convenience options. (Plus there’s the added bonus of preventing diseases linked to unhealthy eating habits.)
Grow a Garden
Assuming you have adequate room and growing conditions, planting a garden can be a great investment. Beans, tomatoes, peppers, onions, carrots, peas and potatoes can be harvested multiple times and are cheap and easy to plant. (And if you live in an apartment and only have a balcony available, a spice garden can be kept in small, dimly lit spaces and can add a lot of flavor to your healthier, fresher foods. Or check out this link, and try growing your vegetables in containers!)
Gardening is also a good activity for kids and gives everyone a chance for quality outdoors time.