I'm working on finding a balance between reducing our grocery spending, while also maintaining a vegetarian (nearly vegan), gluten-free diet full of healthy, tasty foods. I stumbled across this post at Choosing Voluntary Simplicity today that outlines seven grocery shopping strategies that work for someone who advocates living a simple, healthy life. In addition to her seven tips, here are some other things I try to keep in mind:
1. Only clip coupons for items you use. Since I try to stay away from most processed, packaged foods, most of my coupons are for household items (toothpaste, etc.) instead of groceries. I used to keep a fully-stocked coupon file of coupons for items I might possibly buy one day if I could get them for next to nothing. I've found it doesn't need to be that complicated. I've simplified my coupon-clipping and saved both time and energy in the process.
2. Shop mostly in the perimeter of the store. These are where you will find your fresh, non-processed items. 90% of the items in the isles is overly processed junk. Really it is. Read the labels. Challenge yourself, if you haven't already, to eliminate high fructose corn syrup and overly-processed grains from your diet. You won't find much up and down the isles that you can eat.
3. Whenever possible, buy organic and locally grown. Use your buying power to make a statement about the types of foods you want and need your local grocery store to carry. Better yet, shop seasonally at a local farmer's market and buy directly from the farmers themselves.
4. Eat at home. Cook from scratch. People who have known me my whole life might have a hard time believing that I am enjoying spending time in the kitchen, cooking from scratch. But I am and thanks to the help of Susan and her website Fat Free Vegan Kitchen, I have mastered a couple of pretty good meals.
5. Become or remain a vegetarian or vegan. There are so many reasons I believe in a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, but looking at it simply from a financial perspective - meat and dairy products are expensive. Really expensive. And if they are not expensive, they are probably not free-range, grass-fed, or organic. I will come back to this point frequently in subsequent posts, especially as I continue to transition from a vegetarian to a vegan. I'm getting really close, but more on that later.
What do you do to save money on groceries without sacrificing quality? Leave a comment and let me know.
[Image available at freehypo.com]