Today I’m sharing some tips that I use every week to save money at the grocery store.
It can definitely seem like a struggle sometimes to get a week’s worth of healthy food at the grocery store when you’re on a budget. Today I’m sharing 7 tips for how to stretch your money and get the best bang for your buck. While it generally requires a bit more planning and work, it’ll be worth it if you can get some good deals.
Shop what’s in season.
Make sure to take advantage of what will be in season where you live. For me living in western Canada, cherries will cost a lot more in December than they will in July or August. Not sure what fruit and vegetables are in season where you live? Check out a local farmer’s market. Wherever farmers are bringing in to sell, it’s a good bet that it’ll also be cheaper at the grocery store. I’ve found that farmer’s markets have comparable prices to those at the grocery store, so it’s worth a trip.
Base recipes on supermarket flyers.
Before you decide on what recipes you’ll be making for the week, have a look through the grocery store flyers. Take advantage of what’s on sale. If there’s a good deal on chicken, pick a recipe or two that uses it, and skip the pork chop dish. Taking a few minutes to browse the flyers can save you money. If you don’t get them delivered to your house, they’re almost always available on the website of the store. Just put your postal code or zip code in to make sure you’re looking at the local flyer.
Grow your own food.
While I know that this isn’t feasible for everyone, it’s definitely an option if you have some outdoor space and a bit of time (though if you’ve never tried gardening before, it takes less time than you would think). 10 or 15 minutes every day and that’s all you need in general once you’ve gotten your plants in the ground. For just $20 worth of seeds you can grow a summer’s worth of vegetables – really! If you’re new to gardening, check out this post for some tips on starting seeds indoors before you can plant outside.
I like to get my seeds from Baker Creek. They have ton of options for every vegetable an you can pick varieties that will work best for where you live. For example, we have a short growing season here in Calgary (June to September), so I always look for the kinds of carrots, tomatoes, or broccoli that have the shortest growing season to make sure that they have enough time to grow.
Community gardens are also an option if you don’t have a yard of your own. They’re getting popular now, so google or ask around to find out if there’s one near you. I was able to rent a 3×6 foot plot for $25. It was super affordable and I stopped by on the way to work to water in the morning so it was also convenient. While 3×6 might not sounds like a lot of space, if you plan it out, you can actually get a lot growing in there.
Stock up when essentials are on sale.
Keep an eye out in flyers and the aisles to see when essentials that you use on a regular basis go on sale. For me, I use diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, rice, pasta, and soups (mushroom and onion are great for sauces) on almost a weekly basis. I know that if any of them go on sale, it’ll be worthwhile for me to pick up a few extra. Since none of those things go bad quickly, I also don’t have to worry about using them up within a short amount of time like I would with fresh produce.
Buy in bulk and freeze.
Buying in bulk also tends to save money. Buy a case of fresh berries at the farmer’s market and can’t use them all in time? Freeze them and then you can pull them out of the freezer as you need them. There’s nothing better than pulling some blueberries out of the freezer in December that were picked right when they were ripe to use in a smoothie.
This also works for meat. Generally you’ll save a bit of money buying that package of 10 pork cops instead of two. When you get home, separate them into groups of 2 or 3 (or whatever portions will work for you or your family) and put them in the freezer. When you need them you’ll have the perfect amount to use.
Not sure how long different things can stay in the freezer? This chart has some pretty good information for some of the most common foods. In addition, this PDF from the FDA has more foods listed on it, and includes both the fridge and freezer.
Prepare your own food.
While it might be tempting to sleep in and buy your lunch at work or school instead of making it in the morning, you’ll save a ton of money if you bring leftovers with you instead. Packing your lunches even 4 out of 5 days each week will save you a ton of money. I can generally make a meal at home with 4 or 5 servings for the price of one meal out. It makes a lot of sense to make food at home.
Do I ever eat out? Absolutely. But I like to make sure that I use my money wisely when I do. I generally only eat out when I’m with someone else. That may be going out for dinner with a friend or date night with my boyfriend. If I’m going to spend the extra money, I want it to be a special occasion where I feel like I’m getting my money’s worth. Would I rather splurge on a hurried lunch at work on a Wednesday, or a Saturday girl’s night with some of my favorite girlfriends?
If you’re looking for some good containers to keep leftovers in, I like these food storage containers (affiliate link). They’re dishwasher and microwave safe, so they’re easy to use and clean. They also stack really well when I’m not using them, so they don’t take up a lot of space in the kitchen cupboard.
Take advantage of loyalty programs.
If the grocery stores you shop at have loyalty programs, consider signing up for them to take advantage of the deals they have. While it might be sales or discounts only available to members, or earning points for money off down the road, they’re worth it if you can save some money. Every little bit helps.
What’s one of your tips for saving money at the grocery store on healthy food?
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