Ah, grocery shopping. The task we always leave until the last second, once we open the pantry and realize the only food we’ve got is a single apple and curry powder.
In this post, I’m going to give you 5 of my best tips and tricks for when you grocery shop, with the goal in mind of eating well and saving mucho dinero.
1. Buy your main source of protein in bulk and freeze ‘er
This tip applies to everyone irregardless of dietary preferences. Make sure that if you see a good deal on any source of protein that can be easily frozen, be it a box of chicken breasts (my weapon of choice), big slabs of tofu, or even veggie burgers, you stock up.
If you have a proper freezer (that can store anything below 0°C ), you can store bulk protein-rich foods for a remarkable amount of time: ground beef, for example, can be stored for up to 3-4 months, and chicken for up to 9(!). If you aren’t a meat eater, don’t worry: tofu can be stored for up to 5 months when frozen, even after being opened.
2. Make time, be a scavenger
This one may seem obvious, but it’s definitely still worth mentioning. If you’re able to get your main source of protein and one side (for example, frozen veggies or quinoa) in bulk, then you’re free to be more selective in your ‘one off’ meal buys at grocery stores.
For example, I usually take 20 minutes out of my week to troll the aisles of the Safeway near my house to look for deals. Safeway is definitely not the cheapest grocery store out there, but when you can afford to be picky knowing that you have fall-back meal at home if you don’t find anything, you’d be surprised at the good deals you’ll find!
3. Live by the flyer, die by the flyer
If you’re one of those people whose newspaper flyers follow a straight patch from mailbox to recycling bin, you’re missing out on a great way to find skookum deals every week. Big grocery stores usually put out a weekly flyer (if you don’t get it in-person, you’ll always be able to find it online) which has all of their best deals of the week. It’s basically all of the benefit of trolling the aises of these stores, without having to move fro your couch!
4. Don’t be afraid to look for food in unusual places
No, this doesn’t imply that you should be looking for scraps under your couch, it means that you can get surprisingly good prices on food at non-traditional food stores if you’re diligent enough. For example, Shoppers Drug Mart has a frozen food section which often features sales that blow other grocery stores’ out of the water. The reason for this is simply that they have to offer a wide selection to be seen as a legitimate place to buy groceries, but not that many people grocery shop there. As a result, things nearing expiry go on sale all the time for ridiculously cheap prices– last week I found $4.50 guacamole for $0.50 at my local Shoppers!
5. Avoid buying produce from big stores
Oftentimes, big box grocery stores like Safeway will sell very-well-presented produce for prices which look like highway robbery compared to smaller chains. The key is to know which smaller stores have particularly good deals on specific items. If you’re able to figure this out and have the time to shop around, there’s lots of savings to be had. I my case, I know a small market which has Gala apples on sale for $0.69/pound, which is a great deal. I’ll stock up on apples there, and when I happen to be in the vicinity of anther place like Triple A which has good prices on, say, oranges, I’ll stock up on those. It’s not entirely realistic to buy one type of fruit at a different establishment every time you need it, but by shopping around you’ll at least know where the real value is.