1. Go with a pre-made list. This helps decrease impulse buys and allows you to plan out balanced meals before buying the ingredients. You can organize you list by aisles in the store or by food category (dairy, meat, produce, etc.)
2. Make sure you are not hungry. The best time to shop is AFTER a meal, especially if you have a list. If you are not hungry, you will most likely stick to the items on the list and skip the foods that sound good due to hunger.
3. Shop the store perimeter. Ever notice that all the fresh food is around edge of the store and all the boxed food is in the middle? This makes it very easy to shop for fresh and whole foods! The produce, meat, and dairy section are all around the edge of the store. The more you make your way into the middle, the more you'll see processed, boxed foods that are not fresh options.
4. Compare unit prices. On price labels, most stores list the price of the product and a unit price. For example, a jar of peanut butter may cost $4.59, but the unit price is 22 cents per ounce. Looking at the unit price will help you better compare different brands and food items. This is a good tool to use if you are comparing products of different sizes. A large jar of something may be more money total but cheaper per ounce, so you would be saving money in the long term. Here is a picture of a price label with unit price listed:
5. Compare, Compare, Compare. Don't stop at unit prices, compare brands as well. Store brands are often much cheaper than name brands because they do not spend money on advertising. If you want to buy name brand, compare sales and coupons to still get a deal.
6. You CAN enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables. To save money on fresh produce, most shoppers go for frozen or canned options. You can still buy those fresh fruits and vegetables if you buy what is in season. Buying watermelon in the winter would be expensive because it would have to be shipped from some far off place where watermelon is in season. However, buying a produce item that is in season in your area will save you money. If that fruit is not in season and you really want it, then go for the frozen option.
7. Buy in bulk. You save money on packaging costs if you buy a bulk item. You must choose to items to buy in bulk wisely though, because you certainly cannot buy milk in bulk, it would go sour! Look for those shelf-stable items that come in large quantities to save money on bulk items.
8. Always consider the option of "make it yourself". Buying a frozen entrée, like dinners and pizzas, is very convenient, but it is often healthier and cheaper to make it yourself. Find a frozen dinner you love and buy the ingredients to make it. This way, you know exactly what is going into that meal and you skip out on additives like salt. You'd also save money in the long run by purchasing the basic ingredients.
9. Avoid food waste. Have too much of a food that's about to spoil? Try using them in different ways around the kitchen. Use extra fruit in a smoothie or in baking, like using spotty bananas in a bread or muffin. If you have a whole loaf of bread that's about to mold, place it in the freezer and take out a piece at a time as you use it.
10. Spice it up! If you get tired of eating plain, steamed vegetables, look for spices in the store instead of turning to salt. Spices that add great flavor include garlic powder, oregano, cracked pepper, minced onion, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper. Remember, some spices work good in combination, like oregano, cracked pepper, and garlic.
Created by Rebecca Kennedy, Dietetic Intern 2014-2015