Brooklyn blogger Stacie Billis shares grocery tips and recipes in her new book "Make It Easy."
EASY WAYS TO REDUCE YOUR GROCERY BILL
- Meal plan! Planning meals is really the number one way to make sure that you buy what you need and avoid food waste. Stacie even offer tips for people who have tried and think that they just can't meal plan. Even if you don't make a whole, formal plan for the week, there are meal planning strategies that you can still use on the fly!
- Never shop on an empty stomach. You'll end up buying more and indulging in impulse purchases when you're hungry, which can lead to spending extra cash unnecessarily and buying food that you may not end up using, which leads to food waste.
- Know what to buy organic -- and what not to buy organic: Not all produce is better for you organic. Rather with some produce, there's very little difference in benefits between organic and conventional. Also, most packaged snack foods aren't worth a higher price at organic b/c they're still highly processed! The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists are great resources, as is the supermarket guide in my book MIE
- Buy in bulk! The bulk aisle is where it's at for snacks like trail mix, cracker/cocktail mixes and nuts, as well as rice, pasta, beans and legumes. You can get much more for a better price/ounce and also reduce packaging.
- Go meatless as least one additional night per week. The #MeatlessMonday trend isn't just a health trend, but also one that can save you money. Meat is among the priciest items in the market and cutting back on even just one meal can save you big.
- Bulk up meat dishes with nutrient dense lentils. Nearly anything made with ground meat, especially beef, can be bulked up with lentils. For every 1/2 pound of beef, substitute about 1/4 cup of lentils. Maybe you'll work your way up to substituting all the meat like in my Lentil Bolognese (a recipe in MIE).
- Use your freezer to avoid food waste and make the most of foods on sale. You may be surprised by what you can freeze. One of my favorite tricks is buying blocks of cheese when they are on sale, grating them and then popping into the freezer for later use. You can also cook foods like rice and quinoa -- which are often available in the bulk aisle -- in big batches and freeze them using instructions in my book MIE. Sliced bread is also a great thing to buy on sale b/c we use it so often when feeding a family and it freezes beautifully. And herbs tend to go bad quickly: If you have leftover that you know you won't use right away, chop them, place in an ice cube tray, cover with olive oil and freeze for later use.
- Buy frozen fruits and vegetables. Frozen fruits and veggies are flash frozen right as they are picked, so are often quite fresh, especially compared to produce that's not in-season or local to your area, which has to be shipped in at higher cost.
- Use brown bananas and other about-to-turn fruit. Fruit that's about to turn is great for both baking and making smoothies, so think about how you can make use of that produce before you chuck it! You can even freeze fruit when you can tell it's about to go bad and know that you won't use it up. Freeze the fruit on it's own or in make-ahead-smoothie-packs from MIE.
- Be careful about two-for-one and other supermarket deals. With two-for-one or five-for-$5 type discounts, you often don't have to buy the suggested number to take advantage of the discount. Or there may just be a better price on a comparable product. These kinds of "savings" often get you to buy more than you need which, even at a sale price, will have you spending more than you would have normally.