We were recently discussing our vices at work. You know, the things we buy and then wake up the next morning to our Chase alerts and think, “What have I done?” Well, in my case it has never been drunken nights at the bar. Instead, it is almost always a case of me going a little overboard at Trader Joe’s. A wedge of brie here and a couple cartons of greek yogurt there and suddenly I have purchased most of the store.
So, I have decided to share a few tips for how to lower your grocery bill while still eating well. I don’t always practice what I preach, but writing these tips down will hopefully help me do a better job of following them too!
- Stock up on what’s on sale.
Marsh is the bane of my existence. Seriously, just take all my money. It’s almost worse than Whole Foods: just as expensive, but not as good quality. However, the Marsh is a convenient one block away from our abode, so unless one of us moves, I have had to improvise. So, I do my usual walk around the perimeter (where the fresh groceries are) and then check for sale tags. Last week, Organic Valley canned beans were on sale for 4 for $5 and you better believe, I stocked up. I have enough beans to last a year. While, I would usually buy the Marsh brand, the organic was cheaper in this case. I bought garbanzo beans for hummus, cannellini beans for salads, and black beans for tacos.
- Make dishes that incorporate the same ingredients in different ways.
On Sundays I prep veggies, meats, and grains. I make a big pot of my steel cut oatmeal and then divvy them into four mason jars. I’ll roast a big pan of peppers, red onion, and sweet potatoes. I’ll sometimes roast a chicken and then use it in salads, tacos, rice bowls, and eat it throughout the week. Hard boil a few eggs for a quick mid-morning snack at work.
- This may seem obvious, but buy generic.
There are few food brands that I am loyal to, but for the most part, I buy whatever is cheapest. I go back in forth between Chobani and Fage greek yogurt depending on which brand is on sale that week. The majority of your groceries should be fresh produce, eggs, dairy, etc. anyways, so brands should not matter. Buy in-season fruits and veggies. Winter is not the time to buy $8 worth of strawberries. Besides, they won’t taste anything like a strawberry you’d buy in July.
- Shop around.
I am that crazy grocery lady that buys certain things at certain places. I constantly have a go-to Trader Joe’s list in my head and can recite the price for their staple items at all times. Aldi is great if you are feeding a crowd – just remember the quarter for the cart rental. Whole Foods is where I buy frozen salmon, bulk quinoa/oatmeal and other grains. If you watch prices, Whole Foods can be a deal. Both TJ’s and Whole Foods sell single beers so that you can mix and match.
- Green Bean delivery
I had Green Bean delivery when I lived in St Louis and then cancelled it when I moved back. A few weeks ago, I decided it was time to give it another shot. Every other week I get $35 worth of locally sourced produce delivered right to my door in, you guessed it, a green bin. You can mix and match your items for the week online, so you’re never stuck with a vegetable you wouldn’t eat. I love the convenience and that it supports local. You can learn more and sign up here.
6. Amazon is your new BFF.
I have a love hate relationship with Amazon. Mostly love, but that one-click-button is WAY too easy. I have the app on my phone and have been known to order toilet paper, dishwashing detergent, paper towels, you name it, early in the morning via my phone. DANGER ZONE, my friends. That said, the pantry box is a lifesaver. I order La Croix and not only is it delivered to my door, but it is an average of $2 less per case than Marsh. And shipping is free with Prime.
Now that you’re feeling thrifty and fabulous, I am going to take a moment to tell you about Brackets for Good. A few of my favorite organizations are participating this year and would appreciate any support you can provide. One dollar = one point, so every dollar counts. BFG is a competition held every year to help raise money for non-profits. The organization was founded here in Indy and what began as an 8 team tournament, now has 64 teams in 11 different cities in the U.S. The ‘winning’ team will receive a $100,000 grand prize, so this is serious business!
Two organizations close to my heart are competing this year, Indy Hub and Flight 1. They are in different categories, so I am happy to cheer on both. Indy Hub is the ultimate resource for the 20-30 something young professional in Indy. If you want to get involved, you have no excuse. Not only is it run by incredible ladies, they also provide the best events and networking opportunities you’ll find. The organization was close to Denver’s heart too and we both loved being involved.
Flight 1 is a newer interest of mine and was introduced to me by my boyfriend. The organization helps build confidence in kids ages 5-18 years old who face health challenges or have lost a family member to an illness. Kids are able to experience flight through a flight simulator game and some will even get the opportunity to fly a real plane. In the sky. For real. It doesn’t get much cooler than that.
Indy Hub will be hosting a barre class at Invoke (I’ll be there) and I’ll also be baking (and selling) cookies to help the cause, so be on the lookout for more info soon. The barre class will be Monday, February 27 and taught by the one and only Molly Chavers (Indy Hub’s executive director). The first round begins today (February 24) and you can vote here.
Now onto my latest cooking endeavor: BBQ sauce. I had leftover pork and I knew we wouldn’t eat it again in regular pork loin form, so I threw it in the Cuisinart, shredded it, and topped it with BBQ sauce. We had it with sweet potato fries and Brussel sprouts.
I find that store bought BBQ is way too sweet, so I almost always try to make my own. This one is low sugar and the molasses is a natural sugar, so it’s not as bad as the fructose kind that’s been sitting on the shelf for who knows how long. Disclaimer: there is a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s in my fridge at all times for back-up, but if you have the time, make your own. If you want to take this up a notch, add some chopped bacon. BOOM.
This was so good that a photo did not happen, so just imagine a bowl of BBQ pork.
SPICY BBQ SAUCE
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 small onion, minced fine
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 small can tomato paste
- 1 cup water
- 3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 pinch ground cloves
- 2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 Tbsp molasses
- In a medium saucepan, add the onion and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and remaining ingredients.
- Simmer 30 minutes and enjoy! I store mine in a mason jar.