Confessions….one of my favorite parts of teaching cooking classes is the pseudo therapy the women in the class give one another. Sometimes its hard to quiet people down because they are so passionate about the topics from how to feed picky eaters, how to make healthier meals without a fuss, dinner and Shabbos recipe suggestions, and very often lately, how to save money and still feed a family in a nutritious way.
I think these are very relatable. I very often go to the store for one or two items only to spend much more money than I planned for a couple of groceries. And I like to cook wholesome and healthy for a big family and often lots of company on Shabbos and want it to be affordable and time efficient.
As I've become more experienced in the food industry, I've come to realize there are lots of ways to make grocery shopping quick and less expensive (this applies to healthy eaters who like specialty stores like Whole Foods Markets, as well those who are looking for ways to spend less on organic and nutritious groceries).
Here are my tips on how to grocery shop efficiently and affordably without over spending:
1. Meal Prep! I cannot stress this tip enough. Every Sunday, take 10 minutes and create a few weeknight and weekday (for lunch makers) meals for that week. I usually plan Monday through Wednesday and then create a grocery list from these meals. I add in snacks, and the regular items that are standards, like milk, fruit, salad vegetables, and juice. It may seem a bit ridiculous, but meal prepping saves you time by not having to decide what to make each night and money by not over buying and shopping carelessly. It may be hard to incorporate what you want to make for Shabbos in your preparations, so don't worry you can also think about Shabbos meals on Wednesday or Thursday and shop for Shabbos then.
2. Order Online if possible. Unfortunately, many markets do not have this online feature. However, if your market allows you to make an order through email for pickup or delivery, I strongly suggest it. It saves both time and money. Most people walk through the grocery store and select unnecessary items that add up. Even sale items that you do not need, will add to a bill. How often are you surprised at the grocery bill when you check out? Some of that overspending at the market can be avoided with online ordering. Of course, I enjoy trying new products that catch my eye, but try to keep the "extras" to a minimum when I’m actually in the market.
3. If you are a fruit and vegetable lover like me, this tip is especially applicable to you. Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season. Many times we go to the market looking for artichokes, persimmons, cherry tomatoes, or mangos, look down at the price and they are double the usual cost. This is because fruits and veggies work with supply and demand. If they are in season, there is a greater supply so the cost goes down. And the opposite, when they are not in season, causing the prices to jump. Therefore, try to buy fruits and vegetables that are seasonal to get the best value for their cost.
4. Look for sales- this may seem a bit extreme, but don't ignore super market sales. Follow the advertisements and buy items on sale in bulk. I buy cereal on sale, always, granola bars, flour, sugar, and yogurts too. I don’t run from market to market because it just takes too much time, but I do watch the sales at my favorite market and make sure to put away my staple items at those time when I see a great sale. Even markets like Whole Foods has great sales. Last week I saw Kind Bars for 3 for $1, and Chobani yogurts for $.89.
5. Certain stores provide cash back for bringing your own bag (to avoid using plastic). This is a great and easy way to save money. Don't forget your canvas bags! And many markets have school “give back” programs where they give a % of the proceeds from every sale to the school of your choice. That way you can feel good about all that grocery shopping.
I love hearing your thoughts and learn so much from all my readers! Share the way you save time and money to become a pro shopper in the comments below. Happy shopping!