You need food hacks and to save money at the grocery store! How? Why? Well… You get home from the grocery store, look at your receipt, and wonder how you spent all that money. Or you think you have a stocked refrigerator, only to find out that items have already spoiled. (I’m looking at your packaged salads and other bags of vegetables!)
It can be frustrating, because when those things happen, you may not only have to plan something else for dinner, but you realize that you have wasted time and money.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help prevent this – or at least keep it from happening as often. Here are 10 food hacks to save time, money, and sanity. Let’s start with the shopping itself.
Grocery stores mail flyers or have inserts in the paper (especially on Sundays) showing available sales. Check those before you go shopping to find the deals. If you’re looking to cut costs, there might be alternative brands instead of buying expensive ones.
There are lots of jokes about clipping coupons, but the fact remains that they can offer you great savings. Many stores also have electronic coupons on their websites. You may want to steer clear of any website that asks you for personal information to access coupons.
Bonus hack: plan your menu around foods that are on sale. For example, if ground beef is a good price, consider tacos one night, burgers another, freezing a portion for pasta sauce, etc.
Most grocery stores are set up with fresh foods (dairy, meat, produce) on the outer walls of the store. Processed foods reside in the center aisles. Obviously, you may need things like coffee or condiments, but do your core food shopping on the perimeter. You’ll find fresher, healthier food.
We’ve all experienced the scanner at a store showing the wrong price. And when you get a cashier who is quick on the scanner, items can get rung up twice or sale prices are skipped.
Keep an eye on the scanner and bring any error to the attention of the cashier immediately. Don’t wait to find it on your receipt when you’ve left the store…you’ll have a more difficult time correcting the error.
If you don’t notice it right away, keep your receipt to review when you unpack the groceries at home. It’s a good way to make sure you got what you paid for, and stores often have coupons printed on the backs of their receipts.
Most people don’t give any thought to when they shop; they just fit it into their schedule whenever they can. That’s fine, but if you keep an eye on sales or pay attention when you’re in the store, you’ll find the best time to shop to get the lowest prices. You’ll also save yourself from encountering empty shelves because a delivery hasn’t arrived.
Bonus hack: If you shop at farmers' markets, go later in the day. Yes, you may not find everything you want, but vendors usually don’t want to take products back home with them so you might find large discounts applied to whatever they have left.
If you’re a “shop when I can” type of person, you’re probably swinging by the store as an errand on a busy day or stopping on the way home from work and picking up what you need for dinner that night. These quick trips add up.
Just like your making your meal plan, take the time to plan your grocery shopping, especially if you are using coupons or looking for deals. Going every couple of weeks and buying items in bulk or that you can freeze will help keep your costs down.
Now, onto the food itself…
There is no point buying on sale if your family isn’t going to eat it. In other words, don’t get the filet just because it’s cheaper per pound if only a few people eat steak. You’d be better off with a London Broil or cut of meat that will provide enough for those who eat it…without wasting money on those who won’t.
Get to know your butcher as well; they may be able to supply certain cuts of meat that aren’t necessarily pre-packaged.
Buy the whole chicken, please. It is much cheaper than buying breasts, tenders, wings, and thighs separately. There are several tutorials on how to butcher a chicken (it’s easy with a strong pair of kitchen shears). Plus, you can use the bones to make chicken stock which is great to use instead of water if you’re making rice (gives it more depth of flavor).
Probably the biggest pain of any of the foods, right? Those seem to spoil the quickest. The biggest mistake is that people keep them in plastic bags and throw them in the refrigerator. But think about how they are on display in the store. (Hint: not in plastic bags).
Use the drawers in your fridge accordingly. And produce in a cupboard or on a counter appropriately. Just know that you do have to use these items faster because you don’t want fruit flies in your kitchen!
I know those bag salads may be cheaper, but as I mentioned at the beginning, how often do you actually end up throwing them out? Buy heads of lettuce, it’s cheaper. When you get home, wash them and then wrap them in a towel. Spray some water on the towel and then keep the leaves in the refrigerator. Or dampen a paper towel and put that in a sealable bag with the lettuce leaves.
These never lasted long in my house anyway, but I was always amazed at how quickly they went from not quite ripe to brown mush. To keep this from happening, wrap the stems in plastic wrap. This will keep them fresher up to five days longer.
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