Lots of my cooking class clients have been asking for advice about saving money at the grocery store. I hope you’ll find the following helpful, too.
Chef Jonathan’s Top 10 Ways to Save at the Grocery Store, ESPECIALLY in These Tough Times
1. Shop Smart
Make a grocery list and stick to it. Don’t shop when you’re hungry and resist the temptation to buy foods you don’t really need. Use coupons, but only for items you were planning to buy anyway, not for new products you “just want to try.” Resist all those fancy displays, especially at the end of the aisle, and don’t buy on impulse.
2. Don’t Buy Already Cut-up Produce
While they save you time in the kitchen, pre-cut fruits and vegetables carry a big price tag. You could be paying more than double versus whole produce. Plus many fruits and vegetables start losing nutrients, like Vitamin C, once they’re cut.
3. Organic vs. Conventional Produce
Even though I’m generally an advocate of buying organic, consider buying conventional produce that uses very few pesticides or whose skins or outer leaves aren’t consumed. Produce with the lowest levels of pesticides include onion, avocado, sweet corn (frozen), pineapples, mango, asparagus, sweet peas (frozen), kiwi, citrus, and bananas.
4. Frozen vs. Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Although I believe in buying fresh and buying local, when fresh produce is out of season it makes more sense, both nutritionally and financially, to buy frozen. Frozen vegetables are picked at the peak of ripeness and flash frozen so they often have more nutritional value than the fresh variety which has traveled a great distance and may have sat on the grocer’s shelf for quite a while. I always buy frozen peas, and frozen berries can be a huge bargain compared to fresh.
5. Buy Whole Chicken and Cut it Up Yourself
Compare the price per pound for whole chicken, then bone-in chicken parts, then boneless, skinless chicken breasts. You’ll find you’re paying a lot of money for the labor. Whole chicken is often on sale, and it’s really not very hard to learn to cut it up. If there are some parts that your family doesn’t prefer to eat, just freeze them until you have enough to make homemade chicken stock. It will be far superior to anything you buy canned.
6. Buy Frozen Fish
Most fish in our markets has been previously frozen, and is required to be labeled as such. Fishing boats are out at sea for long periods of time, and are actually floating fish processing plants. Frozen fish, when handled properly, is often of superior quality to “fresh.” Why would you pay for the grocer to defrost the fish for you? Frozen, uncooked shrimp defrosts quickly and is a versatile ingredient to be used in many recipes.
7. Canned Beans are a Huge Bargain
Good quality canned beans, such as Eden Organic No Salt Added Beans, are inexpensive and they’re a great source of protein and fiber. Use them in soups, stews, and salads where they may not be the star ingredient, but can have a great supporting role.
8. Buy in Bulk
Always check the unit price on pantry items to be sure you’re getting the best buy whether you’re shopping at the supermarket or at warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club. If the largest size item saves you money, go for it. Just make sure you’ve got enough storage space, and watch those “best before” dates on the label. If you can’t use the entire amount yourself, share with a friend.
9. Store Brands vs. National Brands
The usual advice is to buy the store brand because it’s cheaper. That’s not always the case, so compare prices carefully. If you’ve never tried the store brand of a particular item, buy the smallest quantity you can to be sure you like it. Many store brands are so good they’re indistinguishable from national brands. Stop and Shop has introduced an upscale line of products that’s exceptionally good.
10. Learn to Cook - Eat at Home!
Sure rotisserie chicken is convenient, but frozen entrees and prepared supermarket foods aren’t always nutritionally sound (just think about the fat and sodium content). Take-out food can also take a big bite out of your food budget. Don’t know how to cook? Hire a Personal Chef who conducts customized in-home cooking lessons. You’ll learn a repetoire of easy, delicious menus – plus enjoy great dining at home.
Chef Jonathan Taube
Rocky Rill Foods – A Personal Chef Service
Phone: 845-216-4535 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org