Shopper Alert: Grocery prices are going up, and up, and up, and up…
Do you sometimes wonder how in the world a few bags of groceries could cost as much as a cart-full used to? With groceries and gasoline in a battle to see which can do more damage to the wallet, shoppers are finding it difficult to keep both stomach and gas tank full enough to make it all the way to payday.
The good news, says Melaleuca, is you have many more options when it comes to grocery prices than you have concerning gasoline. The bad news is you may have to make changes in your eating habits as well as in your spending habits.
Smart shopping is about more than simply choosing generic labels over brand names. Smart shoppers consider the nutritional value of the foods they buy—and that can be an eye-opening experience.
Take the standard advice, add some thought, and amplify your savings
You probably already know the basics of getting the most out of your food budget: tactics like clipping and using coupons, checking the weekly advertisements for bargains, not shopping when you are hungry, and comparing cost per unit are commonplace and fundamental.
The next step is to couple those standard tactics with some introspection. If you will do that, the resultant savings can be significant.
Smart shopping begins in your attitude towards food, and that means a “checkup from the neck up” before you even begin to plan your shopping. Work to develop an attitude towards food that reflects reality: the primary purpose of food is nutrition, not pleasure.
Now we’re not saying that your food shouldn’t taste great, but focusing on food as a means of satisfying some unnamed longing or unreasonable craving is a sure path to overspending on the food budget. That sort of thinking can also get you headed down the path towards metabolic syndrome, prediabetes, or obesity. Focusing on food as a means of supplying your body with nutrients casts grocery shopping in a different light altogether.
The following ideas are not meant to be a complete list. They are suggestions pointing in the direction of health—both physically and environmentally. They are meant to help get you going.
- Rather than eat from cans and packages, start as close to the source as you can. Example: A crockpot of beans, cooked from a bag, saves about 80% over canned beans (and doesn’t require the recycling or disposal of a can). Cook a bunch of beans and freeze them for future use. Basic food ingredients tend to be much less expensive than precooked and prepackaged alternatives. Moreover, by cooking and storing basic foods, you save money and have the makings of any number of creative and fun meals on hand.
- Turn first to leftovers. Get creative. Try to never let food go to waste. Studies show that up to half of our available food goes to the trash—and much of that occurs in the kitchen. Here again, creativity is the key. Staple foods can be used in any number of recipes—whether from a cookbook, the family files, or made up as you go. Have fun. Let your primary concern be getting the nutrients you need—and that is much easier when you are working with basic ingredients instead of name-brand concoctions.
- Revisit the basic food groups you learned about in school. The plate has replaced the pyramid as a way of looking at how your diet should be structured. Go to ChooseMyPlate.gov to find out more. And think about this: the food recommendations call for fruits, vegetables, protein foods, grains, and dairy—not McDonalds®, Betty Crocker®, Pillsbury® and Stouffer’s®. Sure, there are times when prepared foods are handy—but it may be that your wallet stays fatter and your body trimmer when you prepare meals from scratch instead of from a package.
There is one more consideration though—one that is especially critical today. Even when you start with basic foods, you may not be getting all the nutrients you need. Most of the available food supply is now produced by giant agri-corporations, and the methods they use have resulted in foods that look good, but may pack considerably less nutritive value than the foods our grandparents ate.
Smart shoppers are turning as much as possible to crops grown organically or purchased from local farms that still work at building up the soil through natural, instead of artificial, methods. Most of us will need to add quality vitamin and mineral supplements to our diet in order to make sure we get the nutrients we need.