There are a ton of people out there that dislike grocery shopping and cooking dinner. With the endless number of tasks that are required today, the added stress of planning, shopping, and cooking is the last thing people want to handle. The advent of pre-prepared meals, increased restaurant take-out services, and delivery options such as Peapod, uber eats, and grub hub have been a blessing for those that are caught in a never-ending on-the-go lifestyle. The costs of convenience, however, is adding up, and more than people think. Everyone wants more money to live life, but many do not realize there is absolute way to increase it.
Grocery shopping, and subsequent meal preparation, is a vital life skill. Despite the lackluster feelings associated with it, understanding the importance of grocery shopping and meal prep will only aid a person in their ultimate goals of quality and healthy living. Grocery Shopping and meal planning, despite the stress that it can cause, is cheaper than any convenience opportunity that is out there.
how is shopping and meal planning cheaper?
1) There is no preparation or delivery fee. For those that argue, pick up options such as Peapod are free, there must be price comparison done by each store to show the differences in products at other stores.
2) The initial grocery bill of pantry items or bulk items might seem expensive, but the use of those items repeatedly drop the actual price of meals daily.
3) This all takes time, and there is just no time to do this. “Time is money”, a long-whispered quote that echoes true. Taking the time to plan, shop, and cook will save money that we would ordinarily spend on convenience, or the easy way out.
4) People will complain that cooking is hard or that they do not know how to cook properly. This is the insert Family Consumer Science/Home Economics class plug for all the school districts that do not call it essential. The next comment is then to suggest learning to cook. This is the information age. There are more videos, virtual learning classes, and online recipes than ever before! Learning to cook can become an inexpensive hobby that can be enjoyed, and one that uses resources devoted to food already!
tips to keep the time at a store and the grocery bill down:
Know Nutritional Needs
Understanding how many calories and nutrients are needed daily is the best place to start meal planning. This will help limit the number of items needed at a store. Watch nutrient needs calculator tutorial.
Make a two-week (or month-long) plan worth of meals. Think about breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Think about potential leftovers that can be used later. Think about the schedule for the week and what days are more difficult to cook.
Once there is a meal plan, make a shopping list.
List everything needed for dinners. Include pantry items (oils, herbs, spices, non-perishable foods, flour, salt, sugar, etc.) on the list to keep a running supply.
Go to a store with a list. This helps with impulse shopping, and reduces waste, which in-turn keeps costs down.
Keep the List Simple. Buy What is Needed, Not Wanted.
Stick to basics. Buy what is needed, not wanted. Once cooking techniques are conquered, and a pantry is packed, there is no need for frivolous products. Pastas, rice, breads, meats, fresh produce are great places to start. Limit the pre-made foods and meals; those are where the costs go up.
Buy generic products.
Believe it or not, there is not much difference between store-brand and name-brand products other than the cost. Companies spend millions for people to ingrain their product into a person’s mind. Remember the goal is keep costs down.
Look at Prices
Prices vary every week. There are sales, deals, and coupons. Understand the prices with and without coupons. Look at the unit price; is there a product that costs the same, but gives more? A little-known fact is the products that make the store the most money are the most convenient to grab! This means the cost is higher, it is name-brand, or the product pays (gives a deal) to the store for it to be placed in the best spot on the shelf.
Buy in Bulk
“It takes money to make money”. This is true in shopping. The greater in bulk, the lower the unit price. Spending more money early, can save many dollars later. The end goal is decreased costs over the long-term.
Don’t Judge Produce
Find the cheapest produce. Ugly can still be nutritious. Reverse -train the mind from thinking products must be perfect.
Which Meats to Choose
Pork and Chicken are typically cheaper than any other meat products. Beef is rising in price, so choose cheaper cuts, unless a special occasion is in store. Fish can be pricey, but most stores that sell it, will sell the bits that are cut from the loins that are typically purchased. There is no nutritional difference in the fish whether it’s a loin, or scrap bits.
Find a Store That Meets Needs
Great prices, easy to navigate, quality products. All in a nutshell.
Do not shop hungry, or at the busiest of times. This influences impulse buying, and the stress trap which can cloud decision-making judgement.
Remember: The goal is always to keep the grocery bill down and decrease the amounts of money spent on convenience. Cooking can become a stress reliever, and not a stressor. Shopping and meal prepping take practice, but anything that helps the bottom line is worth the effort.