8 tips for saving money at the grocery store
- Become really familiar with how much stuff "normally" costs. You probably buy the same foods over and over when you go to the grocery store. 3 things i usually buy? Bananas, frozen spinach, green peppers. I know approximately how much each of those items cost. I also know when the grocery store is ripping me off. If they are charging 89 cents/pound for regular bananas? That's crazy. Bananas are usually 49-69 cents/pound. and yes, While 20 cents here or there won't kill my budget, it adds up!
- Pay attention to stuff that's priced per pound vs. per item. Some stores will list a green pepper as 79 cents each where as others will list it as 79 cents a pound. When you are looking at thousands of items in a grocery store, it's hard to remember which is usually per pound and which is per item - so i usually try to convert anything "per pound" into a "per item" price. For example, the average green pepper is about 4 oz. - so 4 peppers would make a pound - that makes the 79 cents per item price actually $3.16/lb
- Be Flexible, Shop In-Season! So you want to make roasted asparagus and salmon over rice pilaf. Sounds delicious! Only problem.... it's the middle of Summer and asparagus is not in season. Instead of paying a premium for those asparagus spears, buy a different vegetable that is in season! Green beans are really similar in texture/color and will usually substitute just fine in any recipe that calls for asparagus. Plus, (pulled from Harris Teeter prices) green beans are $1.99/lb where as asparagus is $4.49/lb. You'd better want that asparagus 125% more than green beans to pay that price!
- Price compare among the same item. A lot of times you'll see pre-packaged, cut produce that is super convenient - but it's also super expensive! Look at the price per pound for the item. Hypothetically, Let's say a cored, sliced pineapple is $4.99 and the whole pineapple is $2.99. So I'm saving $2 by taking an extra 5 minutes to core and slice my own pineapple. That's like making $24 an hour! Even if you've never cored a pineapple before - watch a 5 minute youtube video, cut it for 5 minutes - you're still making $20 an hour. No brainer.
- BYOB. (Bring your own bag). A lot of stores will give a 5 cent discount for every bag you bring. For a big trip - that's about 25 cents. Ok, so it's only like $10 a year if you add it up - but that's $10 you didn't have before - and it's better for the environment.
- Find the cheapest grocery store. To prove my point, I did a simple grocery comparison among Giant, FreshWorld (an international grocery store), and Harris Teeter. Most of the time, the international grocery store has the cheapest price for produce. If you bought each of these items in equal quantities, you'd save about 78% by buying from the international grocery store. There are tons of these in NOVA - H mart, Lotte, Grand Mart etc.
8. Stock up when it's cheap and you can freeze it! I do this a lot with summer produce. Blueberries are out of season in the winter, so they'll cost $4.99 a pint... or something crazy - but I found them for $1.25 a pint at the international grocery store so what did I do? I bought 6. Kept 2 fresh for eating in-season, and I froze the rest for smoothies, sauces, muffins etc. later when they aren't in season. Think like the ant, not the grashopper.