Grocery shopping can get expensive, regardless of if you're on a tight budget or not. Why spend extra money when you don't have to? I was thinking of things to write about for the Flaming Vegan, and I thought I'd share 10 tips that I use when shopping for food / preparing meals for the week.
- Eat food / Prepare meals around what's in season / on sale: For a while I was really hooked on eating sweet potato as the main part of 1-2 meals a day, but then it went up in price. However, I kept buying it when I really should have taken a sweet potato break and started making meals that were focused on what was on sale or in season. If you see that Cauliflower is on sale on a certain week, try to focus a couple of days using Cauflower-focused meals. If you need some quick inspiration, open up Pinterest and type in something like, "Vegan Cauliflower recipe". :) You'll save a lot of money if you plan your meals around what is cheapest! (if the produce is fresh, of course). **Additional tip: I usually take a look at flyers for different grocery stores when I'm at home and start loosely planning my meal ideas from there. This also lets me decide what store(s) I want to go to to get the most savings.
- Make your own Hummus / Dips / Salad Dressing!: A large container of hummus can be around $6-$7, while a bag of dried chickpeas is .80cents - $2. Have you ever tried to make your own hummus? If you have a blender or food processor you should give it a try! It'll save you loads of money. You can even freeze leftovers! Same goes for dips - Silken tofu can be a great base for making creaming dips and salad dressings and nutritional yeast is great for making a cheesy dip. Fresh or dried herbs like dill and chives add awesome flavour, as does lemon, lime, spices, apple cider vinegar, tahini...etc. Mmmm. :)
- Avoid processed/premade vegan foods when you can or keep them to a minimum / as an occasional treat: Time and time again, I look over my receipt after grocery shopping and the largest priced items are processed/pre-packaged foods 90% of the time. Vegan cheese, burgers, yogurts, ice cream, cookies etc can add up quite easily. I know Daiya makes awesome vegan cheese and I'm not saying to never buy it again, but try to keep your shopping cart filled with mostly whole foods and it'll save you some money and more healthy too!
- Buy Frozen Fruits/Veggies, especially during a sale!: If you see some frozen produce that is on sale, buy a bunch to have on hand. You'll probably get through it way before any expiration date and you'll not only save some bucks, you have food on hand that you don't have to worry about going bad! Frozen fruit is great for smoothies, homemade frozen sorbet/yoghurt and in baked foods. Frozen veggies can beroasted, stir fried or boiled within a relatively short period of time.
- ^ Buy extra Fresh produce when on Sale and freeze it (if it's freezable): I just used this tip recently. I had made some baked goods with some rhubarb a friend gave me, but I had way more than I could use in time, so I washed, chopped and tightly sealed the leftover rhubarb and popped it in the freezer. I did the same with some leftover fresh dill. I find I can never get through fresh cilantro, dill, chives etc...soon enough, so freezing is a good choice.
- Don't Grocery Shop While You're Hungry! (:P): This may be a bit of a silly tip that you've probably heard before, but I definitely think I spend more when I go grocery shopping when I'm really hungry! For one, I usually end up getting some junky type food or a pre-prepared meal like sushi (which is at least $4.75), as well as whatever else that I may not even get to in time. If I go to the store satiated, I can stick to my grocery list (most of the time... sometimes agirl/guy just needs some cookies).
- Opt to cut/chop your own fruit/veggies: I know it can be very convenient to buy the pre-chopped caulflower, broccoli, melon, veggies, fruit etc...but this usually adds quite a bit to the cost, and it may even mean you are getting less product for more because it is already prepared for you. For the most part, it shouldn't take you that much more time to chop your own bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries... This is similar to prechopped lettuce/romaine. It is usually cheaper to buy a head of romaine and chop it yourself. I found a cheap salad spinner at the thrift store, so now washing and drying my greens takes hardly any time at all.
- Try to stick to the outer perimeters of the store: This is partly to do with health and partly to do with saving money. Sure, there are super cheap items to be find in certain items, but for the most part, the healthiest items are found in the outer sections of the store - The produce, both fresh and frozen. It's a pretty good guideline to stick to and it'll cut down on the amount of time that you're in the store.
- Coupons!: I don't take advantage of coupons that often, mostly because a lot of the coupons I see are for items that I don't eat because they are either unhealthy or not vegan. However, you can still find a good amount of healthy vegan options. (http://www.glutino.com/ Glutino has a "Coupons" page) Here's two more: http://www.goveggiefoods.com/coupons/http://www.commonkindness.com/
- Keep an eye on the "Quick Sale" or "Discount" section: Now, this can both save you money as well as risking to make you lose money. Let me explain: A couple of my grocery stores have either a "50% off" or "for Quick Sale/Discount" section with produce that they want to sell quickly. Sometimes this produce is already mushy and icky, but sometimes it is really fresh and there is nothing wrong with it. I have saved a bunch buying food from this section, even if it means it has to be eaten in a day ot so. Now, the reason this can just be a waste is if it is so close to spoiling that you never get to it.
Hope you enjoyed this tips and feel free to add more! :)
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