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Four Easy Ways to Save Big on Groceries

Buying products is not only time-consuming, but also costly, writes Grow Acrons.

Photo: Shutterstock

According to statistics from Statista, on average, American families make 1,6 trips to the grocery store each week. In 2018, Americans spent 5% of their income buying food, according to the USDA.

For Kate Mead, grocery shopping is a key component of her career as a private home chef for six families in the Chicago area. The former Fox reality TV finalist MasterChef runs 60-90-minute grocery shopping tours as part of her Cate's Kitchen Fit business project.

Here are four of her top tips for saving money on groceries.

1. Get a Costco or Amazon Prime Membership

While you can make some purchases at Costco without a membership (for example, you can buy prescription drugs), you will need a membership to purchase online products. Buying groceries in bulk can save you money, even if you have to pay a membership fee. Costco's annual membership costs $ 60 and Amazon Prime costs $ 119.

These shops do not require frequent travel - perhaps once a month or once every two months. If you go there, then stock up on essentials and non-food items. Mead's shopping list at Costco or Amazon has products that she uses frequently. These are milk, butter, beans and grains, or those that can be repackaged and frozen, such as meat.

2. Find a specialized grocery store

Since Mead often buys products, she knows the reasonable prices for different categories, and therefore understands when she is overpaying. For work, she has to be in different suburbs of Chicago, so sometimes she prefers convenience over saving money, but tries to keep track of her expenses.

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She recently spent $ 123 at a small grocery store and $ 289 for comparable items at Whole Foods on two different shopping trips.

“This is just one comparison. And that's a big difference, ”Mead stresses.

She recommends finding a specialty store for most of your purchases. These can be both supermarkets and shops in the grocery market. Mead loves them because they have the same high-quality natural products found in the big chains, but for less money.

Once there, buy seasonal fruits or vegetables: “These stores will save you a lot of money in the end. Even organic meat and seafood are cheaper there than at Whole Foods. ”

3. Make a list, but you can deviate from it

In addition to making healthier decisions, you can save money by making a list before going to the grocery store. Mead also recommends that you plan for one or two snacks in advance to avoid impulse purchases.

It is very important, the cook advises, to plan a diet, including seasonal fruits and vegetables in it. You will find the best prices.

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Over time, you will understand that all stores operate according to a pattern. For example, when fresh corn appears in a season, frozen corn is often discounted, Mead says.

Once you have an understanding of "regular" and "discounted" prices, you can make smarter decisions about your favorite vegetables. And only in this case it does not pose a threat, on the contrary, it would be wise to deviate from your list.

Mead always looks at the prices of fresh and frozen vegetables to determine whether to buy something that she can freeze for later.

4. How to save on meat

Most of Mead's customers consume organic meat, which is usually the most expensive purchase on her grocery trips. For example, one client asks for a rack of lamb, which costs about $ 120 per kilogram.

While shopping for himself, Mead buys most of the meat in bulk from Costco, then divides the huge bag into pound portions and freezes. She also recommends not ignoring the tougher cuts of meat, which will also help you save money.

In the end, include a couple of lean recipes in your weekly diet to save on meat.

“If you're making an organic chopped turkey dish, you can divide the portion in the recipe in half and add beans, lentils, or chickpeas instead of the missing half of the turkey. This will make the dish cheaper, ”advises Mead.

“Besides the savings, you get a lot of good protein and fiber, which is great for a complete, balanced diet,” sums up the chef.

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