What Do You See?
When you hear the phrase, “Cut your grocery bill in half,” what do you envision? Do you see a harried homemaker, spending hours each day running from one grocer to another, piling her cart with a mountain of sale items? Or is it the coupon queen – clipping coupons for hours on end, and then standing in line for 30 minutes ... while the checker scans her two-inch pile of coupons? Or could it possibly be that you see a family eating rice and beans every day? Please put those images out of your mind. Clipping coupons is only one of many ways to save, but it is time-consuming and not something most people can do every month. The following strategies are some of the best money-saving ideas we’ve found. They’ve been tried (repeatedly), modified, reviewed, and modified again – until we were satisfied with them. You’ll need to do the same thing. Take what we’ve done, and make it your own.
BUY IN SEASON
Almost all of the fruits and vegetables we eat are in season – and inexpensive. So if we have a hankering for a seasonal fruit or veggie, but the price is outrageous, we wait for it to be in season. If you’re not sure when something is in season, stop by a farmers market. They’ll know for sure. Here’s an overview of some seasonal produce:
Melons, peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, berries, squash, corn
Apples, grapes, pears, peppers, potatoes
Strawberries, artichokes, asparagus
TRY ALTERNATIVE SOURCES
In our area, we have a specialty store, Sprouts, which mainly sells produce. We often find their prices to be much lower than standard grocery store prices. Some dollar stores are now carrying produce and selling it for discounted rates. Other options include farmers markets, private fruit-and-vegetable stands, or co-ops. Check for alternative options in your area. Be sure to know your prices, and don’t assume you’re getting a bargain at a discount store.
GROW IT YOURSELF
Of course, you’ll need to calculate how much your seeds, water, and fertilizer cost. But you’ll be getting “farm fresh,” tasty, and healthy homegrown veggies. Start simple, with zucchini or other squashes, and as you find success, move up to tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, and spinach. Once you’re successful at those, the sky’s the limit.
RESEARCH ORGANIC SOURCES
As with most money-saving projects, researching organic sources in your area will net you great savings. Don’t forget nationwide chains like Trader Joe’s. And remember that Super Walmart is carrying more organic products than it did in the past, and it has a nationwide price-match policy. Also, venture out into your community and look for local farmers markets and food co-ops where organic items are less expensive. We met a farmer in Scottsdale who runs an organic farm. We spent some time with Farmer Ken, and the stuff he grows organically is incredible. The cool thing is, if you put in a little time at his farm (helping him weed, pick, or just simply listening to his stories), he sends you home with loads and loads of produce. So consider volunteering at a local organic farm! The sun, education, and food could be worth the effort.