Are you suffering from inflation-induced sticker shock at the grocery store? Here are some tips to save money!!
1. Cook from scratch
Ready-made meals at the supermarket are quick and easy, but they can get expensive. Cooking from scratch is cheaper and often a healthier alternative, with fewer additives and preservatives.
When you cook from scratch, you tend to use the same basic ingredients over and over. If you buy those items in bulk, you can save even more. Often there are leftovers that can be used for additional meals or lunches. The key to saving when cooking from scratch is to also understand the concept of cross-utilization when you have one ingredient that is applied in multiple ways.
Take fruit. Fruit can be eaten at breakfast, added to a salad, and used in a smoothie. “There are tons of ways to use ingredients, aside from restricting them to one meal or one type of cuisine.
2. Plan meals in advance
Meal planning is a great way to save at the grocery store. If you have a strategy for the week as to what meals you will make and list the ingredients you need, you aren’t as likely to overspend. Buying only what you have listed and need to make the planned meals and for snacks is critical to saving money.
When meal planning, think about how one ingredient can be used several times during the week. A pound of pasta isn’t going to set you back too much and can be prepared in different ways. Resist the temptation to shop while hungry. You might end up with a cart full of unnecessary food and impulse buys some of which may get wasted.
3. You don’t need to pay someone to prepackage food for you!
Yes, it’s convenient but it’s more expensive. Don’t buy personal packages of cookies, pre-sliced cheese, apple slices, or individual packages of pretzels. Either do it yourself or find an alternative option! For example, put together your own oatmeal packages, slice or grate a pound of cheese at the beginning of the week, separate a big bag of crackers, nuts, or pretzels into mini baggies, and take 30 seconds to slice an apple for an afternoon snack.
3. Be organized
The organization of your pantry, fridge, and freezer plays a major role when trying to save. When everything is organized you are able to see what you have and keep better track of it so that it doesn’t expire and go bad. Good organization will help you cut down on food waste and will help you to use what you have, this means savings on unnecessary food purchases.
4. Buy frozen fruits, vegetables, and sides
Buying fresh fruits, vegetables and meats is great, so long as you eat them before they go bad. A cheaper alternative is to buy some from the frozen foods section. Frozen foods can be an effective way to save, and can allow you to take one or two out and do more with less.” Meatballs, fruits, and vegetables are just a few examples of nutritious frozen foods that can be consumed piecemeal.
5. Shop during senior hours
Older adults, typically those age 55-plus, can save on their grocery bills by shopping on senior discount days. Available at supermarkets across the country, these special days allow shoppers to get a percentage off their bills.
Senior Citizen Discounts at Grocery Stores in Washington WA
(Discounts at grocery stores often change over time, therefore please first contact your local grocery store in Washington to verify which senior citizen discounts are available.)
Albertson’s has a 10% discount on their “Senior Day” one day a month for seniors 55+ (please contact your local Albertson’s directly to verify this senior discount)
Fred Meyer has a 10% senior discount for seniors 55+ one day a month (please contact your local Fred Meyer directly to verify this senior discount)
New Seasons Market has a 10% discount available for seniors one day a week (please contact your local New Seasons Market directly to verify this senior discount)
6. Look for discounts and deals
Signing up for your local supermarket’s loyalty program and clipping coupons can also save you money at checkout. Most grocery stores have taken their coupons online, making it easy to either load the coupons to your account or print them out before you enter the grocery store. Anyone can use store rewards cards, which avail you of the sale prices. AARP members have access to a bevy of coupons and discounts that can be used at supermarkets across the country.
Many supermarkets and retailers also sell their own store-brand products that offer similar quality as the brand names, but at a cheaper price. In the past, the term “generic” had a stigma to it. But retailers have realized that it’s a big moneymaker, and, as a result, have improved the quality of many of their generic brands. So it may be worth trying and comparing.
When you notice that a non-perishable item that your family uses a lot of is on sale, or if you have coupons, stock up! Filling your pantry and buying some extra household products will help you save money on these items over time.
7. Use a vacuum sealer
Freezing meats and prepared food in freezer-safe bags can extend its life and shave money off your grocery bill. To make foods last even longer, you may want to invest in a food vacuum sealer. It can set you back anywhere from $25 to $200, but it does mean you can buy bulk meat or produce, cut it up, seal it and have it for the future. Air that’s left in freezer bags is what causes freezer burn. With a vacuum sealer, you remove the excess air. That preserves the flavor and quality of the meat for longer.
8. Cook in Bulk
Perhaps double or triple your recipes. By cooking in bulk you can take advantage of sales and reduce food waste. Freezing the leftovers for later gives you quick ready meals or lunches that will help you resist the urge to go out for food.
Use your crockpot or dutch oven to make your own pot of chili, chicken pot pie soup, or navy bean soup. For example, one night could be chili and cornbread and then you could use the chili another night for a baked potato with chili.
9. Use Meat as a Condiment, not the Star
There’s no way around it. Meat is expensive and is continuing to increase in cost. Limit your meals where meat is the star of the dish (grilled steak, baked chicken breasts, even curries where meat is the only ingredient) to once every week or two. On a regular basis use recipes where meat is used more as a condiment, or just one of many ingredients.
Think of meals like stir-fries, fajitas, salads, soups, burritos, casseroles, and sheet pan dinners, where you can cut back on the meat and replace it with more veggies or beans. Cheaper and better for you!
Consider even making at least one dinner each night meatless each week.
10. Consider applying for Meals on Wheels if you’re over age 60 and struggling with buying food.
Nine million senior and elderly Americans face a daily threat of going hungry. That means that 1 in 6 of the elderly struggle with hunger. Meals on Wheels operates in virtually every community in America in a network of more than 5,000 independently-run local programs. Only 15% of the people they feed qualify for SNAP. While the diversity of each local program’s services and operations may vary based on the needs and resources of their communities, they are all committed to supporting their senior neighbors to live healthier and more nourished lives in their own homes. Find Meals | Meals on Wheels America
11. Search for some Depression Era Recipes.
Yes, some of them are quite good. They may also help you find more creative ways to make your ingredients stretch. Check our blog for a few recipes.