Everyone is trying to save money, especially those who have large families.
I know from having a growing family of five that I need to stretch my money as far as possible each week at the grocery store!
Many blogs out there will tell you to clip coupons to save cash on food, but honestly, when you choose healthier options- there are no coupons! Rarely do I find anything for produce or dried bulk items, as it is typically junk food companies that offer pennies off their products. To me, it makes no sense to buy these items just to save a few bucks. Like it or not, you WILL be paying for it later, in the form of hospital bills or illness.
And so, I have to find other ways to squeeze the most out of my wallet, while still providing the best for my family.
What it basically comes down to knowing your store, and when they generally do sales or get *fresh* shipments in.
It also helps to know what healthy foods your family enjoys eating, so you can focus on core staples each week.
And most importantly, many times it can be about preservation on your part. Buying frozen veg can be a huge time saver, but it’s still costing you.
Below I describe these in further detail so you can start saving immediately!!
How to Stretch your Produce and Save Money!
1. Know the perfect day to shop.
If you don’t know when your local store has the most deals or when fresh shipment comes in, and your trying to save money, you have some work to do!
Stores are NOT going to run their best deals during high traffic times, like the weekends, because they know they have the upper hand on days like Saturday and Sunday (unless they are trying to get you back in the door, like around holidays) when the majority of people do their shopping. Most stores will have better deals during the week, when traffic is low and they want to generate more income.
And btw, every time I’ve gone to the grocery store on the weekend, it is a NIGHTMARE and I just want to leave as quickly as possible! Weekday shopping is MUCH easier!
Besides for the deals, you have more people shopping, which means that you might not get the best choice for produce and things that are on sale have a better chance of selling out.
If you can, go during the week when foot traffic is low and deals are more common. Ask your local store manager when they get their weekly shipments in and see if you can time it around that day, when new items are being stocked on the shelves. You’ll have first choice, plus be able to take advantage of weekday savings.
2. Buy your staple items in bulk and work meals around them.
Now that you know your store, you can zone in on the healthy items that matter most to you and your hungry family.
Since my family consumes a lot of lentils, it only makes sense to buy this staple item in large quantities, which saves money in the long run because I’m not buying small 8 oz packages.
Know this- when you have to scoop it yourself, it will usually be cheaper. It costs more money for packaging, and you’re paying for that product to be packaged. Unless the packages are on a super sale and it works out to be less per pound than the bulk section, scoop it yourself. You can always transfer your dried goods (such as rice, beans, or granola) to bins or jars when you get home.
Buy the things that your family consumes a lot of in bulk, and plan your meals around those items. If you’re buying sweet potatoes, bulk up and have 2-3 meals that week that incorporate sweet potatoes. This will save you money because you are not buying a million different ingredients for a week of meals, but instead stretching those ingredients to get the most out of them.
I like to do this with low-cost produce such as sweet potatoes, yams, broccoli, carrots, and kale.
Oh and if you’re not making a list of meals- DO IT. There’s absolutely no way you can save money when you don’t have a plan walking in.
3. Preserve and stretch your produce by freezing or canning.
When you see produce for dirt cheap, and you know you won’t be using it all in one week, the BEST thing you can do is to buy a bunch and FREEZE IT.
If you see organic broccoli has dropped down in price significantly, buy a few pounds, cut them up, and toss a bag in your freezer. You’ll then have organic broccoli ready to go for casseroles, soups, and side dishes.
I do this every year when berries are in season, and it has saved me loads of money in the long run! Just recently, I was shocked to find organic strawberry 16 oz packages on sale at 2 for $5. So what did I do? I bought four of them, went home, sliced them, placed them in a freezer bag, and added it to my freezer. We now have frozen organic strawberries for smoothies and overnight oatmeal.
I literally got 4 lbs of organic strawberries for $10. This is a HUGE saving compared to pre-packaged frozen fruit, which is typically 12 oz and costs anywhere from $3-$4.50 per bag (for organic).
I’ve mentioned this tip a few times to friends and family members and I have been surprised that many people simply do not think about doing this!
My biggest suggestion though, is to prep it within a couple hours of arriving home- if you stick it in the fridge right away it will be out of sight, out of mind. It’s best to just get the job done quickly and move on with the day. Trust me, as someone that has accidentally let food spoil because I forgot to take immediate action, take my word for it that it SUCKS when you actually just wasted money instead of saving.
If you get into the habit of this, you can also make large batches of jam and can it for later use, saving you even more money!
I hope that these tips have helped you all rethink some of the ways you shop healthy at the store, stretching your produce and saving money at the same time.
Did I miss something? Please share your tips in the comments below!