How many of you get overwhelmed every time you walk through the entrance of your local grocery store? Does the stress feel compounded when you are beginning a new diet plan and you feel the urge to purchase everything you might need in this first trip since making a new dietary decision? Do you pass down the first aisle and look at prices and feel it is too expensive to eat healthy? If you answer yes to any of these questions, you are not alone. I know my dear wife seems to get anxiety in the store which is why I do most of our shopping.
Prices can be all over the map and can add up quickly when we enter the store without a plan or list for the staples we need. Face it, groceries can be damn expensive if we just shop willy nilly without pre-planning and and a little discretion in our purchases. Which is why I want to debunk the idea that eating healthy is more expensive than eating poorly. Really, is cheap worth the price of your family members current and future health? I hope not, especially when you can save some bucks at the store.
I like to buy fresh vegetables over canned. Frozen over canned is also a good choice as all the nutrients are intact with today’s quick freezing methods. In the produce section, you need to watch your money as evident in the pictures above and below. Note the difference in a single white onions over a bag, over onions already chopped for you.
Beware of marketing schemes to take your money. Note how you can buy a fancier pack of four Russet potatoes for $2.69 when for $.10 less, you can buy a whole bag of the same. There may be a difference in sizes, but they are still the same potatoes in the end. Even worse are the single potatoes pre-wrapped in Saran Wrap ready for you to pop into the microwave. How much do you want to spend for someone to do something for you that would only take a minute of your time and only a couple pennies at best for the wrap.
The difference in price for pre-packaged Romaine lettuce over the exact same lettuce that you can cut up for salad yourself in a matter of seconds. Is your day really so busy that you can not take time to chop lettuce? I understand there are days where you might have a legitimate reason to buy the prepared items, but if you are too busy every day, you might think of where you can make life changes in order to ease stress.
I skip a lot of aisles in the store. At my local Dillon’s store, the first aisle I hit after the fresh produce is the vegetable aisle where I stock up on the store brand canned vegetables. Dillon’s is a subsidiary of Kroger stores and the Kroger brand of vegetables have all been quality in price, flavor, nutrition and quantity of food in the cans. I have found in the past that Aldi’s vegetables seem to contain a lot more water. Their prices may be cheaper for a can, but if you need to open two instead of one, then your savings just swirled down the drain. In fairness to Aldi, I have not shopped at one in years, so maybe today they are better.
Be sure to watch for sales. As you can see in the picture above, Rosarita refried beans were 10 cans for $10. Many stores will have these deals on multiple items on their shelves. Take advantage of these sales when you can when the items are usually up to twice the sale price.
I pictured the can of tomato’s not only because of the cheap price, but for another culinary reason. Sometimes, you might be experimenting with different flavor profiles which the addition of tomato can be most excellent, but also for $.69, a can of tomato’s in the right foods can be a great source to increase the quantity of a dish when you may need to feed one more belly. You never know when you may have an extra body at your dining room table.
Watch those sale prices on meats. Most grocery stores have good meat sales when you watch for them. They are constantly bringing in fresh meats and as some of the stock needs to be sold before it goes bad, their prices get reduced in order to get them sold instead of losing all profits. I eat a lot of meat and always buy it on sale. I never pay full price as there is no need to pay more, ever. These meats are still good, and if you place them in your freezer upon getting home, they will remain good for a few weeks until you cook them. Another good thing is if your store offers a discount card, then by all means get one. The difference I pay for fresh shrimp and fish really adds up when you consider I buy at least a pound of shrimp and catfish every week.
I know that some will look at this simple bit of information and yawn while saying “No shit”. But, I also know there are a good many folks out there who have zero clue how to shop and get the most for their money and often feel overwhelmed at the beginning of a life style change to their dietary habits. We will not call my way a diet, ever. I know that some will think that with a change, they need to buy everything they think they might need and then get overwhelmed when that cart full of groceries breaks the bank. Remember a few key things when doing your grocery shopping:
- Make a list to use and think it through thoroughly before departing your home.
- Do not let all the choices overwhelm you when you enter the store. You made a list for a reason. Stick to it.
- Try to have specific staple items that you buy every week so as to better predict your total expense in the store in order to budget. If you just grab stuff off the shelf, you have no budget to work with. Back to the purpose of your list!
- Remember that most stores have regular sales and try to do your shopping on sale days.
- If an item is on sale frequently, such as meats. Do not feel the need to buy more than you will need just because of the price. First, you might be spending your electric bill money on these items. Next, if your freezer gets too full, then you stand the risk of the meats getting freezer burned and thrown out. You might as well give that money to your favorite charity rather than throw it out in the trash as a meat product.
- As much as possible, buy whole foods that you have to prepare. IE. fresh vegetables. It only takes a moment to chop them yourself which saves you dollars.
- Check the store brand prices against the name brand prices and be sure to read the label for the contents to a can of vegetables. Sometimes, a cheaper can is so because it contains more water and less food.
- I personally never coupon for a few reasons. First, coupon items are usually for sugary and or processed foods such as meals you can just toss into your microwave. I do not eat either for any reason. Next, unless the coupon item is something you buy all the time, you are not saving any money making a purchase for something you would not have bought otherwise. So you saved a quarter on an item but you actually spent an extra $5 for something you would not have bought anyway. Just be choosy if you do use them as their savings can cost you more money than you would have spent other wise.
- Lastly, know that skipping processed foods which are full of preservatives, and skipping foods loaded with sugar will save you a fortune in the long run as by eating nothing but healthy whole foods, you are nurturing your body to good health. By eating a wholesome diet, you will find your yearly expense for medical costs may very well go down. If you have Type 2 Diabetes, the right foods combined with exercise can reverse the effects entirely. You can get your A1C readings to a healthy range. Other health issues can be brought on by the inflammatory effects of many foods. By watching what you eat, you can reduce this inflammation and therefore lesson your visits to the doctor.
- Also, by eating whole foods with low carbs and high protein, you will feel satiated much longer and not feel the need to stop at fast food joints while out and about. Think of all the money you could save by stopping your fast food excursions. It can really add up.