We are all feeling it. Prices are on the rise everywhere across the country, making things tough for the millions who find themselves without work, or minimal work, during this unprecedented time of COVID pandemic. Nowhere are we feeling it more than our most basic need – food.
With food prices on a sharp rise, it is important for the many who have been feeling the tightening of the wallet to eat cheap and be smart when venturing out to purchase food. Because we care (and because we also need options), we have put together a few ideas on how one actually can eat cheap.
Shop On Specific Days
Timing, like with anything, is the key. If you want to find ways to eat on the cheap then being selective on which days you hit the grocery store might be a major pathway to success.
Many experts say that Wednesdays are the best day to grocery shop. The reason for this makes sense. Typically, grocery stores restock their shelves (though lately, that has been more miss than hit) mid-week and they mark down items that didn’t sell the week prior. As they are in the process of changing all their discounts, most stores will honor the price cuts they had from the prior week’s sale.
If Wednesdays are too difficult for you, still try to shop during the week and avoid the crowded weekends when the deals are fewer, if you want to eat cheap.
Also, time of day plays a big part in cheap eats. As they say, “the early bird gets the worm.” In this case, the earlier you arrive, the better the chance you have at getting the clearance prices. If early doesn’t work, then try your shopping before closing. This is when the bakery and deli are trying to get rid of their remaining items.
Buy Foods In Bulk
It is always wise to buy your food in bulk, right? True, if it ultimately saves you money. If you are looking to eat cheap, bulk can be quite attractive. But don’t assume that buying in bulk is always the answer. Compare. Look at sizes and prices and compare those against purchasing an individual item. Many times, though, you will find bulk the better way to go.
Also, while it may be tempting, purchasing more than you actually need may not be smart, depending on the item. A few extra boxes of cereal are probably a good idea if you have a larger family but a 40-count of your favorite yogurt may not be wise for a couple. Be smart with looking to eat cheap with your bulk buying.
Buy Foods Based On Which Ones Are Cheaper Currently
Look up, then look down. You might be amazed at the price differences. Grocery stores are brilliant in this tactic in that their most expensive items are typically found at your eye level. They figure the easiest movement for the shopper is to reach right out in front of them and not want to reach up or bend over to find an item. So, you’re paying for ease.
Don’t give in. Do your stretching exercises before you hit the supermarket. Get up on your tiptoes to burn your calves or work yourself into that perfect squat position to hit them lower shelves. Your pocketbook is counting on you.
Use A Shopping App
You may be wondering just how a shopping app can help you eat cheap. Well, since most of us are often plugged into our smartphones and carry them with us non-stop and constantly have our faces buried deep within, why not take advantage of it?
There are plenty of rebate apps you can find and use such as Receipt Hog, Fetch Rewards, Checkout 51, or Ibotta. These rebate apps may not give you your discount upfront, it is in the long run where you will see your savings.
Also, depending on your store of choice, they too may have their own store app that allows for coupons and savings as you check out. Be sure to do your proper research before heading to the store and if your store does have its own app, be diligent and take advantage of those savings. Eat cheap is the goal here, folks.
Buy Generic, Shop At Discount Stores & Clearance Sections
Why so many people who want to eat cheap are against buying generic brands is a mystery. Looking on the shelves, you can see that the generic angel hair pasta is much cheaper than the brand-name pasta. For some reason, though, you have a fear that the generic brand is going to ruin the taste of your famous pasta recipe.
Well, we’ll have you know that Consumer Reports has found that generic brands completely measure up in taste to brand names and they also found generic is anywhere from 20-25% cheaper. Eat cheap. Not impressed? Well CR also crunched the numbers and found that a family of five (big groceries bills, right?) save on the average of $3,000 a year just from that simple switch to generic.
Need more incentive? Even pros know. When looking for the basic staples in their kitchens, chefs lean toward generic because they know the quality is the same, but the price is the winner.
Not only should you buy generic, but look for those discount stores like Aldi, Market Basket, WinCo Foods, Food 4 Less, Costco, and Walmart. They always have immense savings. And while you’re at it, check out their clearance sections to save you even more cash.
Buy High Nutrition, Low-Cost Foods
There are numerous high nutrition foods that you can find to eat cheap. Some suggestions are as follows: Oats, beans, bananas, brown rice, potatoes, chuck roast, spinach, tomatoes, frozen vegetables, ramen noodles, pasta, canned tuna, or salmon.
Many of these suggestions receive a bad rap for not being good for you but that simply isn’t the case. For instance, bananas have a bad reputation for being high in sugar, but the natural sugar in fruit is not a concern when it comes to one’s health, so says registered dietitian and wellness specialist Jenn LaVardera. “Bananas contain vitamin C, manganese, vitamin B6 and potassium as well as antioxidants that support health. They also pack heart-healthy fiber. At sometimes under 50 cents per pound, they are the best deal in the produce department,” she explains via US News. LaVardera has plenty of good things to say about the other items on the suggested eat cheap list above.
Freeze And Store Your Meals
One of the many benefits you can get from the internet is online recipes. This can come in handy when you are trying to eat cheap. How you may ask? Well, how about freezer meals.
There are numerous freezer meal recipes online. Take a weekend to search, then plan out, and make a bunch of freezer meals. Not only will this save you money, but you won’t have to always be eating the same meal and with these meals frozen, you don’t have to worry about your meal’s ingredients going bad.
Maybe you will learn to can and jar a few items. Homemade tomato sauce is one item that can be made on the cheap and something you can store for a rainy day. A discount box of pasta, your homemade sauce, and there you go – cheap eatin’s.
So, do a little online research to find a few smart freezer meal recipes. Your wallet will be very pleased.
FINALLY – Shop Full And Leave Over-Spenders At Home
It should go without saying that you should never head to the supermarket on an empty stomach. Your cravings take over and the next thing you know you’ve bought $200 worth of junk food, have nothing for dinner that evening, so you find yourself ordering out for pizza to the tune of another $50. Ouch.
Shop smart and shop full. While you’re at it, keep that growing teenager at home when you go grocery shopping. Their eyes are permanently locked on the middle shelves as well as the ice cream aisle, the soda aisle, and the “oh I need these potato chips” aisle. Of course, there is always the generic brand of these items, but hungry teenagers want what hungry teenagers want. Price be damned.
Want to eat cheap? Be smart. Generic works, trust us. A good plan helps. Forethought for future meals will make you happy in the long run. It’s a daunting effort to start with, trying to eat cheap, but once you have your routine set, you are going to see that you and your family can eat just as well while shrinking your grocery bill.