Eating a vegetarian diet automatically saves money. Meat is very expensive, as are the health problems associated with a high-protein meat-rich diet. So, if you look at it that way, regardless of how you shop you’ll save money both short- and long-term by eating a vegetarian diet.
1. Be Flexible – Lists are great. But, the best way to plan your meals is by planning based on what is on sale. When you shop for produce each week, you’re going to save more money than if you buy things that will go bad fast based off a list. Get what’s on sale, and then plan your meals for the week around that.
2. Buy Frozen – Depending on what you’re making, frozen produce is often a better buy. Today, most frozen produce is picked and frozen on the spot within minutes, so the frozen choices are often fresher. Of course, it does depend on what you’re making since the texture will be slightly different. So, choose fresh when the texture is important and frozen when it’s not. Plus, you can stock up on frozen when it’s on sale.
3. Buy Locally in Season – When you shop locally and in season, at farmers’ markets and even local shops that buy local, you can save a lot of money. Try a pick-it-yourself farm, farm shares, and even local Asian stores. These places often have good deals. The trick is to recognize a good deal when you see it by keeping pricing information handy.
4. Buy on Sale – Of course, this is an important factor in saving money. When you buy certain things on sale, though, you may need to process it right away because it may not be good to eat for as long. Say you buy some bananas that are very ripe; it’s important to know what you’re doing with them before you buy them so you don’t waste them.
5. Buy in Bulk – When you can buy in bulk, you’ll save on certain things such as dry goods that last a long time – including rice, flour, sugar and so forth. Also, buy canned or frozen items when on sale. The trick to buying in bulk is to only do it when you have a plan for the items you’re buying to use in the time frame they’ll last.
6. Avoid Prepackaged Food – Many people start a vegetarian diet and spent a lot of wasted time and money trying to replace meat. You don’t need to do that. Don’t buy the pre-made fake meat replacements. They’re not good for you. Regular tofu is fine, but you don’t even need that. Packaged fake meat is full of fats, sodium, and overly processed stuff that you don’t need at all. Just skip it.
7. Use Coupons – If you can get a coupon or savings off anything you normally buy, you’re saving money. But, don’t use coupons just to try prepackaged things or things you don’t normally buy, because that’s just a waste. Coupons only work to save money if you buy something you would buy anyway.
8. Don’t Buy All Organic – There is a lot of hype surrounding organic and the so-called “dirty dozen” in terms of produce. But the truth is, we have a very safe food supply. Buy what you can afford, wash all your produce, and only buy organic when it fits the budget and it’s one of the dirty dozen.
Shopping on a budget and saving money when shopping is something that you have full control over. Once you learn how to do it, you’ll be able to save a lot more money than you think. If you’re not sure about how much money is normal to spend on groceries, you can get an idea from the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion