What you need to know to shop for the best deals, store and use the basic ingredients. Scroll to the bottom for links on various types of food or use the drop down menu at the top of the page. You’ll find discussion on Proteins, Pantry Items, Dairy, Vegetables and Fruits, Oils, Herbs and Spices. (Check out the Twelve Strategies, too, if you haven’t yet – their links are below, as well.)
Know, too, I generally discuss ingredients on most of the recipes on my site, so you’ll be well-informed on the strategies I use to save money.
I try to only buy items on sale, and shop the specials at the store, cook with the seasons, use coupons and take advantage of special store deals and offers. As you can see, just like the stock market, timing is critical. Buy Low! You choose, every time you buy something, the price you are willing to pay. Every time you don’t buy something at an inflated price, you are sending a message to the store and to the manufacturer that you don’t care for the price of an item. Every time you buy at a higher price, you’re telling everyone their pricing is ok and the “market” will bear it.)
Here are my key points, and you can see from this how I put my 12 strategies to use:
- I rely heavily on different sites to help me find the best prices for the stores in my area. There are a ton of them out there, and you can generally find a coupon matching site for your local store and/or stores. I use, in my area, Pocket Your Dollars because it covers Rainbow and Cub, stores in my area in the Upper Midwest. My daughter, I know uses I heart Kroger’s, because she generally shops at that store in her area.
- I know what the sale prices are for foods: what a good price is, and what I’ll buy at. I actually keep a little spreadsheet with the prices. I would recommend keeping some kind of a list, at least, for the ‘normal’ items you buy, so you know what price you’ll want to stock up at. Before UPC codes, every product carried a price, so you always knew what you last paid for a product; you could use a sharpie to jot down prices on the actual item – you’ll memorize your pricing in no time just by seeing it each time you use an item.
- I keep my pantry, fridge and freezer well stocked, and store my food properly. Fridges and freezers operate more efficiently that way, and you’ll be sure to have your ingredients on hand to use that you’ve bought at the lowest possible price. You’ll see documentation for this all over my site on how valuable this is, including the documentation in every recipe I make.
- I’ve learned to substitute more cost-effective ingredients for more expensive ones, and hopefully make up on the taste with the techniques and flavors. It’s not that I don’t wish I could buy anything I want, whenever I want, but I’m determined to make every dollar go as far as possible and still eat well.
- When I was in business, I was told once that in every compromise there is a winner and a loser; in every consensus there are only winners. Interesting thought, but I compromise all the time, in nearly everything I do…but I’ll never compromise on my sense of humor – one of the things that keep me going whether I’m driving my compact Toyota instead of the SUV I’d like to have had, or whether I’m using green cheese in a can because it was on sale instead of running down to our 60 year old Italian Deli in downtown St. Paul and buying imported aged Parmesan! One of my Mom’s friends, a caterer, put out a little cookbook called “If it’s Good, it’s Gourmet,” and I’ve adopted her attitude!
- I try to never buy an ingredient at the regular store price – we’ll often go without some item if I’m not stocked up. There’s a little bit of sacrifice involved that ramps up my sense of superiority to no end; my kids aren’t always so happy about a lack of, say ketchup, as I am, though…but I’ve also tried new items, “new” fruits and vegetables, and been able to allocate my dollars to an area where they can be better spent and/or saved. I LOVE saving!
- Vegetables & Fruits
- Proteins – what prices to “buy at” and how to use in budget planning
- Pantry Items
- Herbs and Spices
- Olive Oil & Cooking Oils
- Dairy – pricing and care
Links for The Twelve Strategies:
- Strategy One: Bank Your Foods
- Strategy Two: Pay Attention to the Bottom Line
- Strategy Three: Control Costs: Maximize “Profits” and Minimize Losses
- Strategy Four: Take Advantage of Cyclic Changes in the Market
- Strategy Five: Be an Investor, not a Gambler
- Strategy Six: Give Back to the Community
- Strategy Seven: Have a Business Plan
- Strategy Eight: Invest in Training
- Strategy Nine: Know the Products you Buy
- Strategy Ten: Know your Suppliers
- Strategy Eleven: Take Advantage of Special Offers & Incentives
- Strategy Twelve: Use Sound Investment Principles