If you are looking for ways to save money on your grocery bill, I advise that you skip the couponing. In fact, a former “extreme couponer” admitted that it was a waste of time in this interview. This compulsive and hoarder like behavior does not seem to be contributing to a healthier waistline despite the savings on your pocketbook. This is in part due to the manufacturer coupons for branded foods like crackers, pastas, frozen meals, chips and sodas vs fresh foods like fruits and veggies that are not products of processing but rather of nature.
There is room in your diet for all of the above mentioned foods but not at the cost of imbalanced eating paired with excessive time spent on clipping coupons. You have to wonder, does it pay off to clip coupons and have a stockpile of packaged foods with little to no nutritional value? I have also noticed that the majority of these coupon clipping individuals are also overweight. Perhaps they are investing too much time clipping when they should be moving or walking to the store. I am not saying this to sound condescending as a few fit women have been featured on the televised programs based around this new American pastime but this is an observation.
If you really want to save money especially during tough economic times, here are 3 tips that will help you eat well and keep your budget in check.
Buy Frozen When buying fruits or vegetables, consider frozen and canned options. They are perfect for smoothies, to throw into your yogurt or make a delicious sauce for your morning pancakes or waffles. They are most likely less expensive than fresh produce, and just as nutritious since they are frozen or canned at the peak of ripeness. Beyond produce, fish and poultry is also flash frozen to preserve freshness and reduce freezer damage. Having healthy proteins in the freezer make dinner time and meal planning easier.
Buy generic Did you know that you can save upwards of 25% on your groceries if you buy generic brand groceries instead of name brands? You may prefer your brand name beverage or cereal but think about generic brands when it comes to staples like sugar, salt, and flour. However, if you are a smart shopper you can also track your favorite brand name foods and see when they are on sale.
Check out Salvage Food Stores- When shopping at salvage grocery stores, it is more of a quality issue vs a safety issue. The reason being is that The Food and Drug Administration approves of outdated fare! The government agency determines that expiration dates are simply an indication of optimum quality as deemed by the manufacturer. If foods are handled and stored properly, foods can remain safe to consume well after the sell-by date.
For example, for fresh produce and refrigerated foods this means storage at below 41 degrees Fahrenheit.
Canned foods and shelf-stable goods like salad dressings, can be consumed for years beyond their expiration dates. Buy cheaper protein sources - think canned beans or fish like tuna and salmon or chicken. Not only do they have a longer shelf life but they also offer quick and easy meal ideas.
Canned foods like soups are significantly marked down at Salvage stores and allows consumers to eat brand names for less. Make sure it has been stored properly and the unopened can is not damaged.
Boxed granola bars, cereals are also safe items to purchase at Salvage stores.
Use common sense- if it smells or tastes sour- think yogurts- then throw it away. This applies to all dairy. Look at the appearance, smell and texture of all foods you are considering buying
Additionally, most salvage stories have a policy to not put anything older than 3 months on the shelves. Think about the extreme couponers, who buy in bulk. You have to expect that they have cereal, cookies, and other foods that are in their pantry well past the sell by date… food for thought!