Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like grocery shopping appears to be one of the most overwhelming chores in America. It’s why meal kit subscriptions like Hello Fresh and Blue Apron have become so popular. It’s why fast food spots and restaurants are joining forces with GrubHub, Uber Eats and Seamless. Convenience matters, don’t get me wrong—I’m all for enjoying a nice meal at home instead of dining in a restaurant alone! But eating well should matter just as much as convenience, if not more.
By preparing your own food, you know exactly what’s going into it. Menu descriptions won’t tell you how much butter, salt and/or oil was added to your food in the prep process. (Side note: I’ll never forget this one time I went to Carrabba’s with my family, and our waitress told us that one of the pasta dishes was made with a whole stick of butter!) If you find yourself craving something specific, be it a Crunchwrap Supreme from Taco Bell or Orange Chicken from Panda Express, you can find a number of “copycat” recipes online. That way, you sidestep all the weird additives, chemicals and preservatives while still making your tastebuds happy.
So to save you time, money, calories and intimidation, I compiled a list of easy grocery store hacks that you can use for your next trip to the store! No extreme couponing required, I promise 🙂
1) If your store has a rewards card, sign up for one. This sounds obvious, I know, but it really does make a difference. Also keep in mind that a lot of franchises like Kroger and Food Lion include fuel perks/gas discounts when you shop!
2) Order the bulky items and household items online from Walmart. They have lower prices than Amazon, free two-day shipping when you spend at least $35 (which is easier to reach than you think) and no membership fee!! I’m obsessed. Save space in your cart and save your arms from falling off.
3) Speaking of bulky, buy (non-perishables) in bulk. This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the above; I should also mention that Walmart often tells you the price per ounce, pound, etc. so you don’t have to do the math in seeing how much you’ll be saving by going for the larger sizes/amounts. No matter where you shop, I can nearly guarantee you that buying the 12-pack of toilet paper instead of the 6-pack saves you more money in the end.
4) Only buy produce that you will realistically eat in a week’s time. This one hits home the most for me. I’ve learned that I can be a bit ambitious in how many fruits and veggies I can eat before they spoil. And it hurts a
little lot inside to throw out half a pint of strawberries that you paid $5 for. Which brings me to…
5) Look closely at produce on sale— it might be about to expire. However, if you’re looking for avocados that are already ripe for tonight’s homemade guac, this could work in your favor too.
6) Skip the pricey pre-sliced fruits and vegetables. Unless you’re really in a pinch, your wallet will thank you for buying whatever it is in its whole state. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather cut a $3 pineapple myself than buy a small container of pineapple chunks for $6!
7) Separate a bunch of bananas into individual ones to slow down ripening. My boss actually taught me this trick, and it totally works. “Once one goes bad, the rest do too!” she said.
8) Make a list and stick to it. Before I even walk out the door to go grocery shopping, I take inventory of what’s in my fridge, freezer and pantry and make sure I have room for whatever is on my list. Overcrowding these spaces= potentially forgetting what you have= potentially wasting food and money. When you have a list, you’ll be focused on looking for specific items instead of wandering and being distracted by stuff you don’t really need. Unless you’re shopping at Target. That’s a different story.
9) Discover what your favorite (simple) go-to meal is and always keep its ingredients in stock. It could be a DIY flatbread pizza, mac and cheese with steamed broccoli, a quesadilla, omelette, etc. My personal favorite is stir fry. I’m convinced that stir fry is the quickest and easiest way to make sure I hit the important food groups: protein, veggies and whole grains.
10) Bring your own reusable bags. It’s win/win: your cashier doesn’t have to spend as much time strategically arranging what you bought, and by carrying bags on your shoulders, you’re not cutting off the circulation in your fingers. And you’re saving the environment!
Can you think of any tips or tricks I missed? Let me know in the comments!
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