Everyone loves the idea of a great home-cooked meal, but the truth is that creating a great dinner from scratch often isn’t cheap. The cost of ingredients adds up quickly, and by the time you get done shopping your grocery list, you’re sometimes left wondering if it was even worth the effort when you’ve spent as much money as your receipt shows.
Fortunately, making great meals doesn’t have to be a costly endeavor. We’re looking at some of the best ways to save money at the grocery store so you can be a top chef for cheap, including one that you might not have thought of at No. 3!
5. Build Around a Star From Your Kitchen
If you’ve ever seen a cooking challenge show, you’ll know that almost every chef builds around one or two ingredients and makes them the main focus of the dish. If you’ve already got one of those ingredients available, that’s money that you don’t have to spend.
What you can do is find an ingredient you have in your kitchen, such as shrimp or chicken, and build around it, buying only what you need to make that ingredient shine.
The fewer things you have to buy, the less your bill will be!
4. Buy In-Season
The law of supply and demand will never change. When supply is plentiful, prices naturally go down. You can use that to your advantage by buying produce when it’s fresh and available.
For example, if you really love pears, you should know that they’re at their best in the late autumn and early winter, so that’s the time to stock up on them and enjoy. Except for a few vegetables that have no off-season, most will be fresher and cheaper at their own times of the year.
When they’re at their best, that’s when you make them the focal point of your dishes.
3. Buy Local
In some areas, certain foods are naturally cheaper because they’re produced in that state or a neighboring one. For instance, if you live in Idaho, you know that you’ll almost never pay more than $4 for a gallon of milk and a five-pound bag of potatoes because both items are local to the Gem State.
If you’re in the Southeast, citrus fruits will be less expensive, and in the Midwest, it makes sense to stock up on corn. Unless you just don’t like what your state produces, it’s a good idea to build at least one meal a week around the most local produce.
Not only will it taste great because it’s traveled fewer miles to get to your table, but it’ll cost less as well.
2. Love Your Freezer
Fresh vegetables are great, but they’re expensive unless they’re in-season. But frozen vegetables are every bit as nutritious because they’re flash-frozen at the time they’re picked, preserving them in the same state as what you’d find in the produce aisles.
If fresh broccoli is too expensive, buy frozen and enjoy the benefits of vitamins and antioxidants. The same philosophy applies to meat and fish. Whatever you don’t use now can be frozen and saved for a later recipe.
It’s a lot easier to cook a great meal when you have fresh things available in the freezer that you can simply defrost and prepare.
1. Shop the Grocery Ads
When your grocery store puts out its specials, take advantage! If something you buy regularly goes on sale, buy as much as you can properly store.
For cupboard staples like peanut butter and shelf-stable condiments, buy a couple jars when they’re on sale and make sure that you’ll never run out. For meat and fish, when you see what you like for a great price, buy in bulk and freeze what you can’t use this week.
Your dollar will go a lot further if you buy on your terms rather than the grocery store’s, and the best way to do that is to buy when you can save the most money!