One of the most common things I hear as a dietitian (right up there with “Tell me what I should eat to be healthy” and “I bet you’re super healthy, aren’t you?”) is “It’s too expensive to eat healthily”.
This one kills me because it’s so untrue!
I mean, yes it will be pricey if you’re spending your money on $12 bags of goji berries and $20 packages of maca powder, but you don’t need these foods to be healthy. Good old whole foods work just fine.
And these foods can absolutely be cheaper than the alternatives (ie. takeout or processed foods), especially when you’re armed with the right tips and advice. As a grocery store dietitian I’m right in the middle of the action, so today I want to share with you some of my best unique tips to save money on groceries:
1. Buy bouillon cubes instead of buying liquid stock. For less than the price of one carton of liquid stock, you can get several cubes that can make around 3 cups of stock each. Also, they come in salt free, vegan, and organic varieties!
2. Beans are a fairly inexpensive protein, but if you prefer to buy the kind in BPA-free cans, they can be triple the cost! A cheaper option would be to buy dried beans instead of canned. If you don’t know how to cook dried beans, this is a really helpful guide to show you how!
3. Buy whole heads instead of lettuce or bunches of greens instead of the pre-chopped kinds – you’ll get a lot more bang for your buck! Wash and chop them up as soon as you get home to save yourself from having to do it later.
4. Ditch the bottled salad dressings. Make your own instead from ingredients that you already have at home like oil, vinegars, and herbs. Check out this Food Network collection of 50 homemade salad dressing recipes!
5. If it’s a product you use a lot, buy the bigger size. That’s almost always a better deal than buying the smaller size. To be sure, you can check the price tag on the shelf – it usually tells you the price per 100 g (in a smaller font underneath the price) so that it makes comparing the cost of two different products easier.
6. Opt for the items that are less convenient, for example: plain meat versus pre-marinated meat, unprepared shrimp versus deveined and shelled shrimp, blocks of cheese versus individually wrapped cheese strings, whole carrots versus baby carrots, a 1 kg bag of oats versus a package of single serving oatmeal sachets, a tub of Greek yogurt versus a pack of single serving containers. Companies almost always charge for added convenience!
7. Buy frozen herb cubes instead of fresh herbs. Or grow your own herbs in the summers – the price of one herb plant is about the same as buying a bunch at the grocery store. But the plant will last you all summer and into the fall, unlike a bunch of herbs.
8. Become an oatmeal lover! One serving of plain oats from a 1 kg package is about $0.09 per serving, whereas one serving of Cheerios from a Family Size box is about $0.33 per serving.
9. Make friends with cheap vegetables, like cabbage and carrots. A head of cabbage is usually around $1.99 or even cheaper when it is in season, and it will last you for ages (like seriously, ages). Likewise carrots can be extremely cheap when you buy them in the 3 lb bags. Also, cool tidbit: Some grocery stores will soon be offering “ugly” produce (misshapen fruits and veggies that are still totally edible) for a discount.
10. Buy your grains, spices, dried fruit, and flours from the bulk foods section in your grocery store. It’s amazing how much more expensive these products are when they’re packaged compared to in bulk! This is also a great way to ensure your products are fresher, since you can buy smaller amounts that you will actually use in a reasonable amount of time.
This wraps up my ten tips for this post, but now I’d like to hear yours!
What is your best tip to save money on groceries?