COVID-19 has drastically changed the way we shop, cook, and interact. Many of us are living on a budget and looking for ways to reduce food expenses. There are a few steps that we can take to ease financial & food-related worries, making shopping and mealtimes easier:
Plan ahead, create a shopping list: Preparing a list before you go shopping can help you avoid impulse buys. Plan meals for the week and only buy what you need.
Never shop when you are hungry: This makes it much harder to stick to the shopping list and may lead to an impulse buy, and you are more likely to buy calorie-dense foods when you are hungry.
Buy frozen, canned, and non-perishable items: Stock your fridge, freezer, and pantry with items such as olive oil, dried herbs and spices, rice, pasta, canned tomatoes, frozen vegetables and fruits, canned fish, lentils, dried beans, whole grains, cereals, and nut butters that have a longer shelf life. This will not only save you money but reduce the extra trips to the grocery store. The nutrient content of frozen and canned vegetables and fruits is comparable to fresh produce, although fresh is best. They last much longer than fresh and are a quick way to add vegetables to your meals. Make sure to select vegetables with low salt and fruits packed in 100% fruit juice rather than syrup.
Let the season be your guide: Fresh vegetables and fruits in season are the cheapest. It is also less expensive to buy vegetables and fruits by the bag, not by the piece. You can also buy fresh seasonal produce and freeze them.
Here’s a brief guide to seasonal produce in New York: https://www.grownyc.org/greenmarket/whatsavailable
Buy store brand products: These items are usually less expensive than the name brand for the same quality products.
Look for in-store or online discounts: Did you know that most grocery stores have weekly discounts? Stores often have great bargains for seasonal produce and non-perishable items. You can also stock up on products on sale if you have enough shelf or freezer space. Make sure to check your local markets for weekly discounts before creating menus to maximize your budget.
Resist temptations at check-out: Stay away from snack bars and candies, save money, and avoid empty calories.