Smart Grocery Shopping Guide
Avoid Prepared Foods
This is in reference to not just packaged meals certainly but also prepared produce. Instead, cut, peel, and prepare your own by buying the basic form of the item. For instance, Whole Foods Market sells prepared pineapple for $8/pound when the entire pineapple is $5. The math adds up to essentially paying someone $35-$55/hour for someone to cut your produce. Only opt for prepared produce when you are certain that you are not going to have the time to chop them yourself and budget yourself accordingly, but still try not to do opt for them regularly.
Some tips to save on groceries so you don't feel as ridiculous as ladies in 1940s dressed up for a grocery store trip when spending your money . . .
Shop at More Than One Store & online
Although purchasing everything fro one store might be tempting time- and expense-wise, it'll cost you. You can save money by only buying your produce & perishables from your preferred grocery store and/or farmer's market. Opt for dried goods, such as grains & legumes, from the bulk section. Bring a reusable container, which many stores now can tare aheaad of time for you at the register, or a cotton bag to eliminate the waste of pastic.
If your store doesn't hae bulk detergent or soap, which unfortunately many still do not, order them online. Personal care & household items are either cheaper to make yourself or purchased from a store like Thrive Market or iHerb.
You can use this link to get a whopping 25% discount on your Thrive Market order. To put into perspective, we save $448.58 annually by shopping at Thrive Market. Their shipment also comes in all recycleable packaging, unlike most other online marketplace orders.
Don't Linger for Too Long
According to Rachel Cruze, a personal-finance expert & author of Love Your Life, Not Theirs, "the average shopper spends about $2.71 per minute at the store." I certainly am guilty for loitering around as well. To avoid that, try setting a timer on your phone for half an hour. Also avoid shopping at busiest times of the day, such as the weekend or right after the workday. Instead, go near opening or closing time. Put on upbeat tunes, such as this playlist from our library, as research has shown that customers spend about 38% more time at a grocery store when they listen to slower music.
Focus on Seasonal Produce
Buying seasonal items is not only better for your health & the environment, but is also cheaper since it avoids the addition of import costs. We cover this topic more in depth in the book The Thirlby as well, which you can purchase here. That's also why shopping at a farmer's market where the carbon footprint is minimal & all food offered is seasonal is the best when and if that's possible for your household. You can visit this guide to see what's in season and shop accordingly as well. If there's produce you cannot live without year-round, either buy them when they're in season then freeze them or buy them in the freezer section. They're usually more affordable and at their peak nutrient since they're picked when ripe then flash-frozen.
Plan Your Meals Ahead of Your Trip
As much as 40 percent of food in the U.S. ends up in the trash. To reduce your impact & waste, plan your meals ahead of time. For instance, a whole chicken can be used as a dinner during the week as a main course, then included in soup, the stock of which you can make with the remaining bones. We have the recipe for the chicken, broth & the soup in the book as well.
Cut Store Brands Some Slack
When buying perishables, such as dairy for instance, don't throw shade at the store-brand! Markets such as Whole Foods or Wegman's offers comparable to those of name brands, such as grass-fed organic butter. They're often simply private-labeled, so they're made from the same manufacturer.
Collaborate with Others in Your Home
There's an app for that! You can download Cozi on iOS or Android, which is free and allows those in your household to view or update the grocery list in real time. No more doubles of things or missed items.
About the Author
Almila Kakinc-Dodd is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief of The Thirlby. She is also the author of the book The Thirlby: A Field Guide to a Vibrant Mind, Body, & Soul. She is currently pursuing her Master’s in Nursing as a Dean’s Scholar at Johns Hopkins University. Her background is in Anthropology & Literature, which she has further enriched through her Integrative Health Practitioner training at Duke University. She lives in the Washington, D.C. Metro Area, where she regularly contributes to various publications. She is a member of Democratic Socialists of America and urges others to join the movement.