Kelly and I are suffering “sticker shock” from the prices in US grocery stores after living in Mexico for several years. I am enjoying getting a lot of things that I haven’t eaten while out of the US. (Panda Licorice, bison meat, Crenshaw melons, to name three from yesterday’s grocery shopping.) But now it’s time for us to settle into spending less in the grocery store!
Here are some tips for cutting your grocery bills. Chances are good that you will increase the nutritional value of your food at the same time.
- Buy basics, not frills… or get just a few frills. Basics are produce, meat or fish if you eat them, dairy products, dry beans, toilet paper, and a few other miscellaneous items. Most of these are found along the outside walls of most grocery stores. NOT basic are sugar-coated breakfast cereal, chips of all kinds, and… fill in your favorite junk food.
Of course, you or your family members may want some of those high-priced, not-very-nutritional, time-saving items. I don’t suggest going cold turkey all at once. But you could buy less and then run out for a few days before the next shopping day.
- Read labels and then see if you still want to eat the stuff (or put it on your body). This applies to health food stores as well as to general grocery stores. Our world has become a chemical stew, and there are things you can do to reduce your exposure to the known carcinogenics found in many products. This is good for you and for the environment both.
Lunch meats are full of preservatives. I never buy them and don’t miss them at all. Actually, I guess I am lucky as several preservatives and anything in the MSG family make me itch!
Some things that had me squinting at the labels yesterday — even with my bifocals — were jams, tortilla chips, and nuts. I got preservative-free jams and chips but didn’t happen to find unsalted nuts so skipped them. We were almost out of shampoo, and I finally had to settle for one that had a bunch of chemicals in it but at least didn’t have a red or green dye. I hope Kelly will accept the fragrance, and I plan to do more research on good shampoos.
Reading labels does add to your time in the store, so if you have foods you regularly buy, check a few out each time you shop.
- Take advantage of sales and also watch closely for marked-down items. Shopping the sales and using coupons and in-store cards are well-known methods, but I also find a lot of good deals on items that are being discontinued or are getting close to their pull date. Yesterday’s finds of this sort included cottage cheese, meat, and fish.
Another classic bit of advice for grocery shopping is: don’t shop when you are hungry! I would add, try not to shop when you are tired or stressed, or have cranky kids with you.