Living solo in NYC, you quickly learn that the fine art of cooking food is one that can be easily replaced by the ability to skillfully navigate Menupages.com. That being said, it is generally much more affordable to cook your own meals, and therefore something worth examining here on TFM. So when it comes to food shopping, when do you splurge vs save to make the most of your Whole Foods visit and ultimately save money on groceries?
Ready to eat greens: At Trader Joe’s, a washed and ready to eat bag of spinach is $2.50, or double the price of what a loose bunch would cost. I say it’s worth the extra cash because it’s been professionally dried and stored – meaning it will last longer, and if you’re lazy like me, you’re more likely to reach for it since there’s no prep involved to eat it.
Organic chicken: This usually runs about $3 more per pound than your hormone pumped bird, but considering how gross all of these additives are (on top of the fact that these poor birds are all doped up) – I’d say it’s worth the extra few bucks. Buy a whole chicken as opposed to just the breast to save some money, plus you can get more meals out of it.
Expensive cheese: I love cheese, and no matter what anyone tries to tell me, whatever those orange squares are in those plastic wraps is not cheese. I like to think that fine cheeses have so much more flavor that you can get away with buying (and eating) less of it.
Organic produce with skin you eat: apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, nectarines, grapes, bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries and greens are considered the dirty dozen, and tend to have the highest concentration of pesticides. This means it’s worthwhile to upgrade this type of produce to organic (because you should never put anything dirty in your mouth).
Pre-cut fruit and veggies: You pay a premium for produce that has been cut up for you by someone else. Do you own a knife? Do you know how to cut a carrot? Stop paying someone else to do it for you – it’s not worth it.
Single servings: Unless you’re planning to have daily picnics, buying the larger container of things like yogurt or apple sauce as opposed to single serving packets can save money. All you need to do is scoop from large container into a smaller container. Easy.
Some name brands: Anything that is simply a one-ingredient item (like beans, rice, oatmeal), has virtually no difference in taste between generic and brand name. It’s definitely worth a try, and if you don’t like it, just keep the packaging and receipt and refund it at the grocery store (trust me, they will take it back).
Bottled water: Even though the price of each bottle decreases when you buy in volume, you’re still spending money on something you can get out of your faucet at home. Drink filtered water and save money (and the environment).
Price per unit: Pay attention to this number to know if you’re getting a better deal by buying the bigger package or a different brand.
You don’t always have to buy more to get the sale price: When items are marked with deals such as 2 for $3, you don’t always have to buy two to get the sale price.
I definitely believe in spending money on food, because there are few joys in life that are better than a good meal – but sometimes you can still get that happy belly with some wiser choices. Just a little food for thought.