Grocery Shopping 101: How to Minimize Your Spending while Maximizing Your Kitchen

Who doesn’t love to save their hard earned cash?

Grocery shopping has become one of my biggest pet peeves. In the words of my mother, “Can you believe that eggs are $3.49?” Robin, I know. It used to tickle so much to have my mother call me after shopping with shocking realizations it was no longer the 90’s.

Nowadays, I get it. I can walk down the isle and purchase multiple boxes of cereal less than I can purchase a package of boneless, skinless, chicken breast with rib meat. To the budget minded family of 5, I am able to understand the decision making of somewhat keeping to the SAD (standard American diet). Bread products, 100 calorie value packs, and frozen meals quickly keep the kids happy while limiting the struggle of paying utility bills.

Fortunately, we are still in the “feeding our two mouths” stage of life with the most disposable income (until nonexistent kiddos are out of college) we will have. Even so, maximizing these earning in the grocery store has become a top priority. It’s food, not a 30 year investment. Below are some of the ways we spend less at checkout and more towards our bellies.

  1. Shop within the seasons
    • Oh, the importance. Shopping within the season’s used to be so much more obvious. Before grocery stores became experts at sourcing fruits and vegetables from all over the globe, you would walk into a store with a list item and you simply wouldn’t find it. Nowadays, we have access to essentially every fruit and vegetable year round with one kick, a little bump in price.
    •  Learning what is sourced in your state throughout the year provides more than just monetary benefits. This practice contributes to local farmers, offers fresher goods, and can provide greater nutrition than an item harvested weeks ago.
    • Take advantage with this resource: https://www.seasonalfoodguide.org/
  2. Plan meals within the weekly adds
    • Majority of grocers have an add in which highlights sale items such as meat, vegetables, and fruits. When beginning to plan your week, take a peek at these and keep the proteins in mind when planning recipes.
  3. Download the grocer apps and clip coupons
    •  Technology makes it too easy not to do this. Within the app you can digitally “clip” coupons and look at the weekly sale items. I utilize the following apps on a weekly basis.
      • Kroger: Sign up for a free Kroger plus card and link it to your telephone number. Upon check out, type your number in and the rest will do itself.
      • H-E-B: Just like Kroger, sign up for an account and link your phone number. H-E-B requires a pin number upon checkout for security purposes.
      • Whole Foods: WF hasn’t gotten quite up to speed on clipping but once you sign up, you’ll be issued an individual barcode through the app. All coupons are available through this barcode meaning there is no clipping necessary. Purchase an item displayed, show the cashier your barcode to allow them to scan it, and bam.
        • I want to point out that WF is so worth having even if you do not find yourself there often. Last weekend we spent $5.99 per pound of beef at Kroger. Once I got home, I checked the WF app and learned my nearest location had a better product for $3.99/lbs. It’s not always a $2 difference but when it comes to protein, I will save whatever we can.
  4. Trader Joe’s, Auldi’s, Joe V’s (Houston)
    • Oh TJ’s. You are my lunch time hobby! These grocer’s specialize in being their own middle man. Meaning, they purchase directly from their suppliers. Additionally, to keep prices lower, they employ less personnel, cover less square footage in building size, and sell the essentials such as vegetables, protein, dairy, and few shelf items.
      • Must buy items from TJ’s: Coconut aminos, coconut milk, coconut oil, ghee, olive oil (including cooking spray), frozen fish steaks (salmon, ahi tuna, and swordfish), frozen riced cauliflower, any and all salad greens, $1.99 spices, raw cashews and almonds, RX bars, bulk limes, onions, and potatoes, $5.99 frozen grass fed ground beef, ground turkey I often find for $2.99/pound, canned artichokes, sugar free pasta sauce, chicken stock, salsa (red and green), canned tuna, canned chicken, plantain chips (sweet and regular), and maple syrup.
    • Joe V’s Smart Shop: Predominately Houston located, H-E-B owned. Essentially, it’s H-E-B brand items. They offer bundled protein packs, fruits, and vegetables. Like other stores, JV’s posts their add online. Currently, they are offering previously frozen skinless chicken breast at $0.97/ lbs. You can find their locations here along with their local add.
    • Tip for all of these stores: Go early or go late. Do not go after church on Sunday and be prepared to look around a little.
  5. Skip packaged chicken breast and opt for cooking an entire chicken
    • I learned this tip from my Grandmother. It’s cost effective and versatile. Last Sunday we purchased a 6 pound bird at $1.07 a pound from Kroger. We spent ~$6.42 on chicken used for 4 meals.
    • How we use it: Discard the skin and boil in a large stockpot until fully cooked. For the best tasting broth, only use enough water to cover the bird. Shred the chicken and return the bones to the broth. Cook on low for at least 2-3 hours. The longer the Broth simmers, the more collagen extracted.
      • Store chicken in an airtight container for up to one week.
      • Measure out 1/2 cup per person when using in recipes.
      • Use the stock for soup, in place of your morning coffee, or as a base for your favorite sauce.
  6. Plan “like minded” meals that use similar ingredients
    • Example: Green Bell Pepper.
      • 1/2 of the pepper sautéed with onions for fajitas or tacos.
      • 1/2 of the pepper used for an Asian chicken stir fry.
    • Approaching your kitchen with this concept will not only save you from buying multiple vegetables, it will sharpen your kitchen skills and allow you to have fun creating new ways to use the same ingredient.
  7. Commit to hearty soups and chili’s
    • A pot of soup or chili can go a long way. Each week we make a double batch of Sausage, Kale, and Mushroom soup that feeds us all week long. I like to enjoy soup for breakfast while Caleb adds it in around lunch to help meet his protein needs. Majority of the time, to have this recipe, we spend about $18.
      • 2 lbs Ground Pork often sold for $2.99/ lbs at our Kroger
      • 1 bundle of Kale sold for $0.98/fresh bundle
      • 28oz can of grocer brand diced tomatoes sold around $0.97.
      • 1 package of fresh sliced mushrooms sold around $3.75
      • 2 containers of Swanson’s Chicken Stock at $2.69
      • Remaining seasonings such as Italian, paprika, fennel, salt and pepper are not included as we only have to purchase these every few months. This also applies to garlic and onion as we purchase these items in bulk, once a month.
    • Chili is easy to incorporate at the end of the week when it’s time to use the remaining vegetables and protein. Depending on what part of the country you are located will determine how much you just cringed at this idea. However, throw in the last of your chicken, add a can of tomatoes, dice the zucchini, onion, and bell peppers almost spoiled and season the goodness with chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Stir in the last of your leafy greens towards the end of cooking and enjoy.
  8. Stop buying spiralized vegetables
    • I get it, these products are nifty. However, they’re ridiculous. Veggie Noodle Co zoodles are sold locally here for $4.98 and it’s pretty much one serving. Yes, grocer’s have caught on and began offering their own brands, such as H-E-B who sells their zoodles for $3.98 a package, but purchasing these still do not put you ahead. Stop being extra and spend $0.94/pound on actual zucchini.
    • Spend $17 on this zoodle maker and prepare your own. They’re fun to make, easy to cook, and taste better. I’ve had this slicer for two years now and it works like a charm.
  9. Stop buying pre-chopped vegetables and fruit
    • 16oz bag of kale greens is $2.44 each.
    • 1 bundle of kale is $0.98.
    • You’re paying for the convenience. Prove this next time you find mangos. Yes, they have a long core but they’re not that difficult to cut.
  10. Limit falling into products
    • Easily said but not easily done. Nothing makes me happier than coming across Paleo certified, Whole30 approved, and Keto happy products in the market. I think it’s amazing that there are products available to help folks follow their path and that the entry to the market is welcoming enough in which small businesses can play the game. As much as I day dream about cuddling a Siete Tortilla, I can not deny the fact that I am buying 8 tortillas for essentially $9.00. These are the moments when the budget really plays with me. Truthfully, Kite Hill Cream Cheese Style Spread is everything I could want on my grain free tortilla topped with smoked salmon and red onions. Realistically, all of these products add up and 9/10 times, you can make it yourself or substitute something better suited.
      • Dairy Free Cream Cheese Spread is simply soaked raw cashews (or almonds) that blend smooth into a paste like consistency.
      • Make your own butter coffee by adding ghee to your brew and blending it until frothy.
      • Avocado Mayo is fantastic but making your own is so much easier than putting the car in park and walking into a WF.
        • This also applies to all of the yummy dairy free creamers available. Use the base of this pumpkin or peppermint creamer and add what your heart desires.
      • Make your own plantain chips by thinly slicing green plantains and baking them with coconut oil and salt at 350F for 10-12 minutes.
      • Make a pizza casserole instead of purchasing boxed Paleo Pizza crust.
      • Make a casserole and freeze individual servings in Tupperware instead of spending $5.00-$8.99 on Paleo frozen meals.
    • In regards to the tortilla’s, use your WF app and stock up when they’re $6.99 and freeze them. Fun fact, Caleb once asked me to calm down when our freezer contained 12 packages. Surprisingly, 96 tortillas don’t go as quickly as I thought they did.

I hope you have the most terrific, savings happy year! Don’t forget, with all of the extra green in your pocket, now is the best time to begin working towards your retirement. Compound interest, people! COMPOUND INTEREST.

Additional Note: Specific values notated in this post were confirmed via local grocers during the posts creation.

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