This one is totally basic folks. Buy groceries - not take out! When I first moved to NYC, I discovered that they can deliver anything in this city. Because Ricky hadn't moved to the city yet, I was on my own for food and as a picky vegetarian, I pretty much only ate pasta & green beans all the time. So, on the nights that I didn't want to cook up some pasta or nights I was working late, I'd just order food. This drained my bank account. Thankfully Ricky was soon in NYC and cooking for me (if I could use the raise the roof/praising hands emoji here, I would). So here's our Grocery Tips:
- Make A List. Seriously. Without a list, we've found that we spend nearly $60-$80 more each trip. We ended up buying what we thought we needed and not what we actually needed. And in order to make your list, you need to....
- Make A Plan. Decide what you're eating for the week and plan it out. Make a breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks plan because if you don't you'll be wondering if you forgot something. We're basic with either bagel, egg & cheese, bagel & cream cheese, or cereal & milk for breakfast. I'm also a coffee drinker, just another NYC Starbucks addict! BUT instead of spending money at Starbucks every morning, I make my own coffee (in the Keurig my parents gave me - thanks Mom & Dad! Seriously..) Anyway, I buy the Starbucks K-Cups at the grocery store (we go to Stop & Shop) and they include coupons in the box every time you buy it! So of course, each week I use my coupon to buy my coffee, it's a win-win. (Price break down: Starbucks drinks normally cost $4.00+ for one. The grocery store sells a box of 6 k-cups for $9.99 plus the box comes with a $0.75 off coupon (which Stop & Shop doubles so it's actually $1.50 off!) The next time you buy your Starbucks k-cup, you're paying $8.49 for the box. Six days at Starbucks is $ 24.00+ BUT six days of Starbucks k-cups is $8.49 which is 2.8 times the savings. In a month, you can save $60.00 and put the money towards a trip.)
- Meal Prep. We spend Sunday nights doing meal prep. It's a great way to use what you have at the end of the week but also make sure you're eating healthy. We'll make wraps for lunch for the week (and have Lean Cuisines for leftover lunches). Ricky will also cut the fruits & veggies we have in the house so we don't have to cut them during the week; they're already ready when we're making dinner. I also find that if the fruits aren't already cut, I don't eat them (spoiled, I know but a lot of people are like that!). And of course, pre-cut fruits are way too expensive so you have to pick out your fruits and cut them yourself every Sunday. It's worth it, I promise.
- Snacking. While Ricky is prepping meals on Sunday, I'm baking for the week. We've found that healthy eating and budgeting fall hand in hand. We used to just buy a ton of snacks (pre-popped popcorn, rice cakes, cookies, brownie brittle, etc.) but we found that we just end up sitting around snacking and still hungry. AND that stuff is obviously not the best for you. So every week, we pick a baked good for me to make and I use the "Weight Watchers" recipe for it (substitute oil for apple sauce ALL THE TIME!). And, did you know you can take a cake mix and just add a can of diet soda (another Weight Watchers recipe), mix the two together and bake! Usually I'll make an Angel Food cake with strawberries, blueberries, or pineapple in it. Last week I made a Lemon Cake with coconut & lemon glaze and this week I made wheat germ snicker doodles with coconut oil rather than butter. So good.
- Budget. Decide how much you're willing to spend BEFORE you get to the grocery store. We spend $80 ($40 per person) on groceries each week. We've been able to keep this number down by following our tips above. This is also where Stop & Shop is useful. You can grab a scanner by the entrance, bring in your reusable bags, and scan (and pack) your items as you go. You're able to keep an eye on how much you spend each time you ring something in.
*We've also recently started a Hello Fresh subscription for 2-4 people which will normally cost $70.00 a week. This doesn't leave us much wiggle room when buying other things at the grocery store but each meal seems to have two serving sizes for each person so if you don't mind leftovers you might be able to get six meals per person from a 2-4 person box. Fortunately, unlike most home delivery food boxes, Hello Fresh allows you to pause your subscription very easily so if you can't find time one week or it doesn't fit into your budget, just pause until you're ready to continue.
If you're interested in any of our Recipes or more Grocery Tips, contact us below!