According to the Coupon Mom Stephanie Nelson, Shopping strategically at the grocery to save money is not changing the way you eat, it is about changing the way you buy the food that you like. If you are working on losing weight, or improving your families’ health, you can save money on groceries when you know how to be a Strategic Shopper. Eating healthy on a budget is easy with these 9 tips.
How to save on produce:
- Compare prices for your common produce at a few different types of stores, such as a discount store (Wal-Mart or Target supercenters), a no-frills discount store (Aldi or Sav-a-Lot), a wholesale club (Costco or BJs) and a couple of local supermarkets. You may find that an alternate store would be a better source of produce in the off-season. During the summer, a local farmers’ market could be a good source of healthy produce at a lower cost.
- Save money by doing it yourself. The cost savings of washing your own lettuce, peeling your own carrots, cutting your own fruit equates to an hourly wage of over $50! If it takes 5 minutes to save 60-70%, it’s worth doing yourself. Don’t pay exorbitant per-pound prices for pre-cut produce, pre-cooked chicken strips, cooked bacon, etc.
- Buy fresh produce in season, concentrating on the featured sale items. If not on sale, buy frozen vegetables as they tend to be less expensive and have coupons available for name brands. Frozen vegetables are frozen at the peak of freshness so they may have more nutrition than fresh vegetables that have been in storage for a longer period of time.
How to save on meat, chicken, fish:
- Only buy main dish ingredients when they are on sale. Pay attention to your stores’ featured sales item on the first page of their weekly ad and plan that week’s meals around that ingredient. Chicken is a common sale item, so be creative about finding healthy recipes that your family likes using various types of chicken. Buy at least one or two extra weeks’ worth of the main ingredient item to freeze so you do not have to pay full price in the future.
- Buy larger family-pack quantities of meat, chicken or pork and package them into smaller quantities for the freezer to pay a lower per-pound cost. Buy a whole pork loin at $2 per lb. on sale and ask the butcher to cut it into chops while you shop rather than paying $3 or $4 per lb. for pork loin chops.
- Do not buy sliced deli turkey for $8 or $9 per lb. at the deli counter—make extra grilled chicken breasts at $2 per pound and slice for sandwiches during the week. You can also buy your own turkey breast and roast it, or bake a small chicken on sale for $1 per lb. and slice it for sandwiches.
- Managing snacks is important because family members are likely to eat planned ingredients for other meals if you don’t have easy snacks available. Let family members know what snacks are available and encourage them to choose the healthy, inexpensive options.
- Examples of inexpensive snacks include store brand pretzels, popcorn (air pop is the cheapest and lowest in calories), store brand graham crackers, carrot sticks, small apples, bananas, frozen banana smoothies with skim milk, diet hot cocoa packets, diet gelatin or pudding, saltines, yogurts bought on sale with coupons, and homemade cookies and brownies for family members (in moderation) who are not watching their weight!
- Do not pay the premium for pre-packaged 100 calorie snacks. A 6 ct. package of 100-calorie snack bags of crackers costs about $3.00 or more. A $1 bag of store brand pretzels or $1 box of store brand graham crackers makes at least fifteen 100 calorie portions—take a couple of minutes to divide the large bag of pretzels, graham crackers or saltines into smaller bags if that is easier to control and you’ll save big. The pre-packaged option can cost 9 times as much!