Since I know that we probably all like saving money, I'd like to talk a little about doing that!
Here are 5 Tips to Smart Shopping:
1) Plan menus and shopping lists.
This helps you to cut out some of the ingredients that you think that you need, but come to find out you don't, or maybe not in the amount that you thought.
Decide which recipes you are going to use, and plan out how much of each ingredient you are going to need. That's it! If you want to keep track of the items in your kitchen, you might like the Out of Milk app for your smart phone. It's a free app, and it's also really easy to use. You can even scan the bar codes of specific items you'd like to add to your list.
When planning your menus and shopping lists, consider buying foods that you know you will use up (especially if you buy those items in bulk), then prioritize those foods into your meal planning. When we shop at Costco, we usually buy primarily non-perishable, longer-lasting items, or items I know we will get through before they go bad.
2) Clip coupons & Use rewards card programs
This can save you a little money, unfortunately though, not all of us have time to clip coupons! But, if you get coupons in the mail, get coupons from the newspaper, or where ever, it only takes a few minutes to browse through those coupons for some healthy brands that you can save some money on. Oftentimes, coupons are for unhealthy foods, while the healthy items are for brands that are often the more expensive foods than other items in the natural foods section, or organic section at the grocery store. What it comes down to, though with coupons, is that you can look around at prices of items that you buy often (even comparing prices and brands between stores), or foods that you want to try, & match coupons that way!
With the rewards card, you can sometimes download coupons from the store's website to use when you swipe your rewards card at the store. You can also gain points that may get you discounts on things like gas at that store's pump station (which is usually located near the store). I've also recently found out that you can sometimes use the store's rewards points at other stores, too (including some other gas stations)! You can ask your store, or browse around online to find out how you can use rewards.
3) Compare brands/stores & Price Per Unit, & Shop during Sales
As I mentioned in tip 2, to save money you may have to compare the cost of different brands of the same product. You can look at the Price Per Unit, which is usually located on the shelf tag. Sometimes the store brand can actually be more expensive (& full of more preservatives or more sodium) than a name brand, while other times I've found the opposite to be true! I usually whip out my phone & use the calculator to determine which item is a better value, especially if the products are in different quantities. Here are some calculations I use: 16 oz. = 1 lb.; 8 oz. = a cup.
While, to "save on your health," you can compare between brands for things like the sodium content, and general overall goodness of the ingredients (often the shorter the ingredients' list; the better, as well as the list with the easiest names to pronounce). The quality of products and taste differences vary so much between brands too, so you may have to experiment.
To compare between stores, the quality of, and deals, as well as sales, offered on products can be considered. Some stores, like Albertson's, for example, offer buy-one-get-one free deals on their meat, while both Albertson's and Fred Meyer have, from reviews that I've seen (and from my own experiences), good quality meat. The rewards program comes into play here, as well.
4) Buy in Season & Local
Another way that you can save money, is to buy produce that are in season, as well as locally produced food. If the food is produced closer to the store's location it may cost less to get it there (this goes for foods that are in season, as well, since it may not have to be shipped from overseas, where it is in season). This can also benefit the town you live in by buying local, or in season during Farmer's Market season, for example.
5) Don't shop while hungry!
I've sometimes found myself shopping while hungry, which causes the costs of that shopping trip to go up a bit! My stomach's hunger drowns out my brain's sensibilities, and I end up wanting to eat just about anything and everything. I can usually combat this by storing some longer-lasting snacks in the car (since our son's a diabetic, it's a good idea to have snacks for that too!), & then I can just eat a light snack which will get me through the shopping trip. By not being hungry during your shopping trip, you can save on calories, too, not only on the caloric content of the foods you select to buy, but on calories while shopping (especially if you are shopping at Costco when the samples are out)!
How to eat healthy, for less at Costco:
44 Healthy foods for under $1:
Some low-cost meal ideas: