To anyone who knows me, probably knows I’m incredibly frugal. But I refuse to start eating crappy – unhealthy food! Sure the great value macaroni and cheese is 50 cents, and the white pasta is sometimes on sale for 30 cents (and yes I will buy it when its that cheap!) but when you consider all of the health consequences and how much that is going to cost you, also, when I eat unhealthy food, I’m more apt to feel the need to go to the gym for excessive amounts of time (and time is money!), and finally- real food is just so much better! (at least in my humble opinion…)
So, as a poor college kid, there are some things that can be done to afford the good stuff.
Discounted Produce! I’ve mentioned this before, but I think I get the best deals from the discounted produce section at Shaws. I’m not sure that this is available at all grocery stores, but you should definetly keep an eye out for it! The other day I bought an eggplant, 3 peppers, and a some baby bok choy for $1.14, and a bag of various fruit (I think 2 pears, 3 oranges, an apple, and 2 pluots) for about $2. The fruit may be a little bit bruised, but really, its always perfectly fine, and it just gives you more incentive to eat it! For the best selection you usually have to go around odd times, but if you ever have to opportunity its well worth it.
Usually there are also discounted baked good, and dented cans on sale. The baked goods- go for it. The dented cans? Beware. After taking infectious diseases I am a bit afraid of dented cans. In the lab we took cans and inoculated them with various bacteria. The result: disgusting. And that is what would be happening to dented cans. In general, you’ll probably be fine, I would just make sure to cook the food really well (no spagehttios straight out of the dented can!)
Sales: This sounds like a no brainer: but buy when things are on sale, and stock up! Usually grocery stores cycle through sales every few weeks, so if there is something you usually buy every week and its on sale, buy enough for a few weeks (unless its perishable and cannot be frozen). Check weekly fliers to plan your meals.
Buy in bulk/ kind of: When you are shopping for one, or two, it seems odd to buy in bulk, and buy from bulk sections doesn’t always have to be BULK. For instance, at the Harvest Co op and some whole foods they have ‘bulk’ sections, where you can buy as much or as little of things like rice, flour, grains, granola etc. as you want, and these prices can be much better than what you would find prepacked. (For instance, I bought 3# of oatmeal at the Harvest Co Op for $2, whereas if I bought a 2# contain of Quaker oats I would have paid $4). This is also a great option if you just want to try something out.
Store Brands: this is pretty self explanatory. Just check out the price difference between the store/ generic brand versus the name brand. Sometimes there is an obvious quality difference, but usually they are very comparable and can save you a lot of money.
Skip the meat: Meat is expensive. Vegetarian options can be very cheap (Rice and beans is pretty much the easiest and cheapest meal out there- even beats the 50 cent mac and cheese! Especially if your buying from the bulk section ;) )
I could really go on and on for days about my frugality, so I will leave you with those points, but I’m sure more will come up through other posts.