With all the options out there these days, it can be hard to not spend a fortune at the grocery store, especially if you’re trying to shop healthy and natural, and especially if you’re shopping with dietary restrictions. Most of us don’t think too much about what we’re throwing into our carts (how much could that bag of carrots really be?), but it does all add up. Rather than having to scrutinize each item’s price and calculate whether your getting a good deal, try these tips below.
1) Plan your shopping. Make a list before you go to the store and only allow yourself the occassional spontaneous indulgence off of that list. Otherwise those little add-ons can start to add up! That being said, you can introduce a bit of flexibility with the items already on your list – if you see a sale for a similar item to what’s on your list, buy it instead!
2) Taste before you buy. Before buying large packages of new foods, see if you can taste them first. This way you don’t end up buying a whole container of something that you end up not liking and throwing away. Lots of snack brands like Barnana are introducing small grab & go sizes, which happen to be perfect for tasting!
3) Avoid pre-cut fruit at the grocery store. That’s where they get you. Instead, take a weekend when you have some time, buy a few different fruits at your local farmers market, go home and cut them up. Freeze whatever you’re not eating within a few days for future smoothies, breakfast bowls or desserts (e.g. popsicles or topped with yogurt).
4) Beware of bulk. Buying things like toilet paper and paper towels in bulk is great, but be mindful of buying food, especially perishables, in bulk. Are you really going to eat a whole crate of peaches before they go bad? Buying non-perishable foods like grains in bulk may not be a bad idea since you can buy whatever quantity you need, but just be careful not to fall into the trap of overbuying – those plastic bags can look pretty puny when you only fill them with a little bit, but remember, there’s no minimum!
5) Eat more plants. Not only is this recommended for general health, but it will help your digestive system run more smoothly due to the fiber content of most green veggies. Plus it will save you money since veggies are cheaper than meat. You can portion control your meat right in the store by asking the butcher to cut it into single-serve portions before wrapping it up.
6) Don’t throw away your leftovers, as small as they are! Cut them into bite-sized bits and sauté them with some brown rice, soy sauce, green onions and veggies for your own unique take on fried rice! You can also throw them together with some eggs, onions, salt & pepper for a breakfast frittata!
7) Make bone broth from your leftover bones. Whether you’re eating out or have just made a roast chicken, save those bones for some delicious, healing broth. Put the bones (and/or chicken carcass) in a large pot with lots of garlic, some onion, a bit of ginger and salt, bring to a rolling boil, then cover the pot and simmer for a few hours (we recommend at least 4 hours). If you want to get rid of the excess grease, put the whole pot in the fridge overnight and in the morning when the grease has solidified on top, scoop it out, then strain the whole thing and boil one last time. You can freeze whatever you don’t drink in a few days! For a vegan option, toss your veggie scraps into a pot with some garlic and onion and follow the same directions above.
8) Store smartly. Produce like apples, berries, potatoes, and onions can all be jeopardized by just one rotten spoiler. If you’re buying a whole bag, check each piece before you put it away. Also invest in some good quality tupperware for your leftovers (vs. the disposable kind)- it will help keep your food fresher longer.
9) Freeze fresh herbs in olive oil or butter. When do you ever use the whole bunch of herbs for one recipe? Now there’s no problem! Just break them up into small pieces (take them off the stem) and freeze them with either olive oil or butter in an ice tray and you can just toss a cube in the pan next time you need it!
10) Don’t confuse “sell-by,” “best-by,” or “use-by” with “toss-by.” Avoid tossing your food too early. “Sell-by” means it has to be sold, not eaten, by a given date. “Best-by” means it will be at its peak of freshness, not safety, by a certain date. And “Use-By” indicates when the quality will start to go down. Here’s some guidance on how long various foods really last in your fridge.