Every time we go grocery shopping these days, it seems like prices are higher than they were the last time. Twenty dollars’ worth of groceries just isn’t what it was a year ago, or even a week ago.
If you’re looking for ways to make your money go further at the grocery store, consider these tips from our Cooking Matters volunteer and staff instructors – just one of the Cooking Matters at Home Class Resources they’ve put together to help you cook healthy, delicious meals at home.
- Use frequent shopper cards: If your grocery store offers a frequent-shopper card, get one to save on food and other household items.
- Plan before you shop: By planning a weekly menu, you can be aware of exactly what groceries you’ll need. Write down each recipe title and list the ingredients you’ll need to make them.
- Buy fresh fruits and veggies when they’re in season: In-season produce is cheaper. For example, strawberries are less expensive in July than December. Frozen and canned vegetables and fruits are also good low-cost options in or out of season. (For more info, see Seasonal Produce in the Pacific NW.)
- Make a list before you shop: Making a grocery list helps you avoid impulse buys. Read stores’ sales ads and flyers to help plan your list.
- Use what you have: Plan your weekly menu based on what you already have. For example, if you have a can of beans in your pantry and leftover shredded cheese in the refrigerator, make a taco salad or bean burritos. Do you have ground beef in the freezer? Plan for meatloaf or spaghetti and meatballs.
- Avoid convenience items when possible: Buying salad dressing is a lot more expensive than making your own. Chopping your own vegetables is much cheaper than buying prechopped ones at the salad bar.
- Don’t shop hungry: Research shows that shoppers who shop hungry spend up to 17% more than those who don’t. Eat something before you shop – your wallet will thank you!
- Shop the bottom shelves: Grocery stores put the most expensive products at eye level. You can usually find cheaper items lower down.
- Keep a list of foods you use often, and stock up during sales: If you know what foods you consistently use, you can watch for sales and stock up when they’re at lower prices. Buy food in bulk or multiple packages. Meats, vegetables, and some fruits freeze well. Pantry items can be stored safely for a long time, so it’s worth the money you’ll save.
- Buy store or generic brands to save money: Generic products often have the same ingredients as private labels but are much lower in cost.
- Get more help: Pinching pennies at the grocery store only gets you so far. If you’re still struggling to get enough food, check out these other Cooking Matters resources:
Want more advice for cooking healthy on your budget? Check out all of Community Food Education’s Cooking Matters at Home demos, recipes, tips, and tricks. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.