Here’s how to reduce the pain at the checkout counter while still eating like a champion.
1. Go green. Paying for groceries with cash can help you avoid impulsively buying high-cost snacks, according to a study from the Journal of Consumer Research. Pulling bills out of your wallet raises your awareness of food spending, compared to swiping a credit card (Bennetch 2011).
2. Be in the moment. More supermarkets are carrying locally grown items when they’re in season. These are often a great bargain compared to imports.
3. Raid bulk bins. With no packaging or advertising costs, bulk bins let you save big on whole grains, legumes, nuts, oats, dried fruit and baking supplies.
4. Embrace meatless Mondays. Meat always takes a big bite out of a food budget, so commit to buying lentils, beans, tofu and other less costly plant-based proteins.
5. Try store brands. The store brands of items like canned beans are less expensive than the major national brands, and the store brands can be equivalent nutritionally.
6. Watch out for greenwashing. Food labels like “hormone-free,” “free-range” and “all natural” can raise the price tag. Sadly, too often these nebulous terms lack any real muscle and are not worth the added cost. Do your label-reading research.
7. Know when to prioritize organic. Choose organic fruits and vegetables based on likely concentrations of pesticides. For a ranked list of the most and least pesticide-laden produce, go to www.foodnews.org/walletguide.php.
8. Avoid the up-sell. Often, grocery stores will tout bulk discounts such as “three packages of raspberries for $5.” That’s a good deal if you’re going to use them all, but not so great if many of them will go moldy in the back of your fridge. If you can eat only one, buy only one. Stores will apply the discount to each package at checkout.
9. Speak up. Get to know your produce manager, butcher and fishmonger. They can tell you when the prices of perfectly edible items are most likely to be slashed for a quick-sale as the items approach their “sell-by” date.
To view the full article that ran in the November 2013 issue of IDEA Food and Nutrition Tips click here.