As an inexperienced millennial with an entry level job and $200,000 in student loan debt, I’m always looking for ways to save money. Now, I could go on a ‘Ramen Noodles every night’ diet, but I care about my health too much to do that. Therefore, I use these tips and tricks to save money on groceries.
Know When to Skip Organic
The benefit of buying organic food is that you can reduce your exposure to pesticides and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Buying organic also has positive impacts on our environment. However, buying organic can get expensive. Therefore, here is some insight into some of the foods that are not worth buying organic:
Sweet Corn – the pesticide profile in both fresh and frozen corn is low. However, if you are trying to avoid GMO, opt for organic corn since 90% of corn is genetically modified.
Sweet Potatoes – Sweet potatoes are not packed with as many pesticides as white potatoes and you can always peel off the skin to get rid of parts that touch the soil.
Onions – Onions are less susceptible to pests since they grow underground and are therefore low in pesticide residue.
Kiwi – The skin of the kiwi protects against exposure to pesticides. If you plan on eating the skin, however…
Pineapple, avocado, bananas – The skins of each of these fruits protect against exposure to pesticides. Avocadoes are number 2 on the Environmental Working Group’s ‘Clean 15’ list.
Quinoa – Quinoa is low in pesticides because, as it turns out, pests don’t like the bitter taste of its saponins.
Fish/Seafood – Currently, there are no USDA standards for organic seafood so the label does not mean much. Sustainably sources or wild caught seafood would be a better alternative.
Maple Syrup – Maple syrup is typically not treated with little to no pesticide anyway.
See also the EWG’s Clean 15 List and the Dirty Dozen List
Although some grocery stores are starting to stock organic sections, I’ve found that my local farmer’s market sells produce for around the same price or cheaper than the grocery store. All that being said, you could save even more money by not buying organic at all, but that’s up to you.
In the off-season, buy frozen over fresh foods. Most fruits and vegetables, such as sweet corn, are picked at the peak of freshness and packaged immediately for your convenience, so the nutrient loss is minimal. Some foods even have just as many nutrients as their fresh versions. Below are a few foods that are recommended you buy frozen when trying to save money grocery shopping:
- Green beans/ peas
- Leafy greens
This might be a little extreme for some people, but it helps me out a lot. My local grocery store has a delivery service where you can go to their website, order things online, and have them delivered to your home. Rather than having everything delivered (because delivery fees are a thing), I use this service to check out what store prices are. After writing down prices on my grocery list, I’ll go to another grocery store, such as ALDI, and compare prices. I usually do this for canned or frozen foods that I have on my list. For fresh foods, I compare prices at the farmer’s market. Whichever store has the cheapest (and quality) item is where I’m buying. This process doesn’t take me too long. On Thursday night, I’ll search grocery store prices. On Friday afternoon ill compare prices with ALDI and buy whichever dry, canned, or frozen goods are cheaper. On Saturday morning, I compare prices with the farmer’s market and buy inexpensive goods there and still have time to go back to the grocery store or ALDI if something happens to be more expensive.
Use your discretion; if ALDI has old brown bananas for $.59 and the farmer’s market has beautiful almost ripe bananas for $.60, I’m going for the $.60 bananas that’ll last longer and taste better.
Another tool you may want to use is your town’s weekly ads. You can have them mailed to you or you can visit specific stores’ websites. The benefit of having them mailed to you is that they often include coupons.
Join Rewards Programs
I’m a big fan of the Food Lion Shop & Earn rewards program. When you sign up for a free MVP card, not only do you get discounts on specially marked items, you also build up points that can deduct dollars off of entire purchases. Walgreens, Kroger, Lowes Foods, and Stop & Shop also have favorable rewards programs.
Use cash back apps
My go-to cash back app is Ibotta. I’ve been a member since April 2017 (it’s been about a year), and have gotten back $57.92 to date, just from buying things I was going to buy anyway. When you use my link or referral code (ktorwqd), you’ll get a $10 welcome bonus. I think they call that ‘free money.’
Other cash back apps that I use include Ebates and Dosh. I’ve been a member of Ebates since June 2017 (10 months) and, although I do not do a lot of online shopping (I do most of it through apps), I’ve been able to get back $10.88. When you join using the link provided and spend $25, you’ll get a bonus $10 in cash back. I joined Dosh this month and have not really had a chance to use it, but it seems promising. It links your credit and debit cards to the app and gives you cash back without you having to worry about uploading receipts or shopping exclusively through their app. Just by linking your first card, you get $5.00 in cash back. I am looking forward to using this one.
Lastly, of course, there’s always coupons
What are some tips you have for saving money on groceries? Let us know so we can ‘save dat money!’
You Should Know…
By clicking on referral links, I will receive a small bonus from any apps you may join and use at no additional cost to you. This bonus will go toward making shetriedit247.com a better experience for you and toward paying back student loans to the Department of Education and Sallie Mae (so help ya girl out!). Thank you so much for your support!