In many cases, obtaining food completely for free is out of the question. When there’s no way around spending money, you can always utilize discounts, promotional offers, and low-cost items to maximize your savings while shopping. The Grocery Coupon Guide is a fantastic resource for coupons. Like its name suggests, the site guides you through the byzantine system that is grocery couponing. It lays out particular strategies and provides up to date information regarding everything coupon related – including thousands of digital and printable coupons.
When grocery shopping, it is crucial that you stick to a plan. Make a list and keep to it, insuring to avoid impulse buys and unplanned purchases. Becoming knowledgeable with the intricacies of grocery stores can also be a boon. Knowing where, when, and what to buy will save you thousands of dollars. A good way to start is to identify the local options for groceries. Ethnic supermarkets, local orchards, or even farmers’ markets (if you are a good haggler) often provide produce at a cheaper price than their big-box counterparts. With regards to timing, the start of a store’s sales week (typically Wednesday) is a good time to shop. This is the day when most stores accept both the new and previous week’s sales and discounts. The evening is usually the best time to shop (around 8 o’clock) as there are less crowds and more stock (N.B. peak rush-hour times are weeknights after work or weekends in the afternoon).
When deciding what to buy, there are many things that must be considered. Shelf placement, for example, can be an important factor. Next time you are at the store, look above and below eye level; you will notice a stark difference in price. Searching for store brands (AKA home brands) is another classic technique; you get the same product sans the expensive brand name. Further, always avoid out of season vegetables and fruits, as they typically cost twice as much. If you’re not too picky, choosing canned or frozen fruits is even more economical. Other cheap and healthy foods include: beets, canned tuna, garlic, onions, cabbage, bananas, popcorn, brown rice, watermelon, eggs, dried beans, oatmeal, flaxseeds, and potatoes. When it comes to meat, the undesirables are ridiculously cheap. If you get over the mental aspect, oxtails, brains, livers, tongues and other unpopular parts of cows, sheep, pigs, and chicken are rather tasty when prepared correctly.
Eating right before you begin shopping is important as well. It will not only help you adhere to your list, but also keep you from overbuying – which is the leading cause of food wastage. Food waste can also be avoided by using a methodical system of storage and accounting. Take stock in what you have and utilize the financial concept of FIFO, whereby the first items you brought in – i.e. the oldest items – are the first ones to be used. Storing your food in airtight containers within a proper functioning fridge is also important.
Another technique for food maximization entails repurposing leftovers and scraps. This is perfect for food you have purchased or collected but have yet to eat. Meat and vegetable remains can be used to make homemade stocks, while citrus fruit rinds can be squeezed and shaven into other dishes to add zest. Browning bananas can be frozen then later added to smoothies, banana bread, or banana pancakes. Are your salad leaves becoming wilted and impotent? Throw them in a stir fry with some garlic, sesame oil, and soy sauce for an Asia-inspired appetizer.
Often times there are lingering remnants of food products stuck to the bottom and sides of containers. For the mustard lovers out there who don’t want to waste a drop, add one tablespoon of red- or white-wine vinegar, one tablespoon of honey, and three tablespoons of olive oil into your empty mustard jar and shake repeatedly. Voila, you have just created a homemade salad dressing. Similarly, to use up the rest of the marmalade, fill the jar with a few shots of gin, two tablespoons of orange liqueur, and the juice of one lemon and one clementine. Shake well then strain into a martini glass for a phenomenally delicious quaff.
Before shopping, it is prudent to download and use a few money saving apps. Google shopper is a good one that helps you find the products you are looking for at the cheapest price. It also has a barcode scanner to give you more information about products and “nearby/today’s offers” to show you close and limited-time offerings. Yowza is another great app for couponing. Search your city and zip code and Yowza will provide instant coupons for a seemingly infinite verity of products. Finally, the Wal-Mart Savings Catcher app is a must have. It includes a feature that enables you to scan your receipt. It then searches the surrounding area for the items you bought, and if any of them can be found at a cheaper price, you get refunded the difference.