Halloween is just around the corner, but you know what’s really scary? My grocery bill each week!
Over the last few months, we’ve seen our weekly grocery bill gradually increase in price — in fact, if we’re not careful, it could easily double what we were paying last year for groceries.
But we are careful, and I’d like to share with you some tips that have helped keep our grocery bill down a bit — maybe not as low as last year or the year before, but pretty close (like, within $20).
Tip #1: Plan it Out.
Every Sunday, Scooby (my partner) and I sit down together and meal plan for the week. We plan our lunches and dinners and do our best to utilize produce for multiple dishes (eg, spinach salad one night and sautéed spinach with a quesadilla the next night). We post our meal plan to the fridge (so we don’t forget!) and adhere to it throughout the week. Meal planning helps ensure the produce or meat doesn’t spoil before consuming, and it helps us anticipate how much we need to spend on groceries each week.
Tip #2: Check the Fridge/Pantry PRIOR to the Grocery Store
OMG, I am so guilty of this one: I’ll be at the grocery store, convinced we need more oatmeal, only to discover when I get home that we have an entire container unopened. :/
This tip is especially helpful for produce or meats — when making that meal-planning list, check the fridge. You may notice you have some broccoli that will spoil in a day or two, and you can work that into your meal plan for the week.
Relatedly, Tip #3: Freeze unopened meats or produce
If you suddenly notice your meat is about to expire, toss it in the freezer to use for later. This applies to produce, too. Frozen spinach and kale are GREAT to throw into the blender for smoothies. Just be sure to clean and cut/chop before storing In the freezer.
Tip #4: Buy Frozen Produce
Frozen produce is usually cheaper than fresh (especially true for organic) and some argue that it may even be better for you because it’s stored immediately upon picking. In terms of nutritional value, studies have concluded that frozen produce has comparable antioxidant and vitamin levels to those of fresh. Of course, this route doesn’t work if you want a salad, but for many recipes, frozen vegetables work just as well as fresh.
Tip #5: Shop “in Season”
Back in the day (like, way back…200 years ago back), the produce and meats people consumed varied depending on the season. Oranges weren’t available at all times during the year as they are now. In this age, most produce is available year-round, but the prices vary depending on the season. Shop what’s in season. Produce that is available but out-of-season will be higher in price.
Tip #6: Skip the Chips
One bag of chips costs anywhere from $.75 to $2. Guess how much one banana costs? About $.19. For a cheaper (and much healthier!) option, skip the chips and opt instead for a piece of fruit.
Tip #7 (and the most important one!): Shop Locally
Why are food prices increasing so rapidly? There are a few reasons, but one is the price of gas. It costs more to transport food, and that cost increase is reflected in the food prices. But guess what? The farmers at your local farmer’s market don’t have to travel long distances! In all likelihood, the produce from your local farmer’s market is the same as it was last month or even last year. Shop locally — it’s healthier, likely cheaper, and better for the planet.
The key to overcoming this grocery price nightmare is vigilance, awareness, and a little planning. If Scooby and I can do it, you can do it! Happy Halloween, friends!