How to Save Green on Your Grocery Budget
Sometimes when I talk about ‘going green’ I’m met with an eye-roll and a shrug, but the truth is whether you live tiny or not, there are ‘eco-tweaks’ that you can make that will save you money and benefit your well-being, especially when it comes to your grocery shopping. If you like the idea of having more cash in your wallet, read on.
Buy In Bulk: If what you’re picturing is a whole pantry full of paper towels that’s not what I am talking about. I am referring to the bulk aisles that you find in most local health food stores or markets. This can be spices, beans, seeds, nuts, coffee, grains, baking products, etc. Just take an empty glass jar with you and get as much as you’d like. By buying this way, you’re saving money (often these items are 15-30% off when they aren’t pre-packaged), saving the earth from unnecessary packaging, and saving on waste because you are controlling exactly how much you buy. Win, Win, Win.
Drink More: but only from your own reusable bottles. I personally prefer stainless steel. It keeps hot liquids hot and cold liquids cold, plus it’s dishwasher safe which makes me very happy. Plastic water bottles and disposable coffee cups take up a huge amount of space in our landfills. We can do better than that. There’s a reusable bottle for every personality out there. A bottle of water at the airport is $5. Bringing your own bottle and filling it up at the water fountain is free. And if you need more incentive in the morning, there are many companies that offer discounts on your coffee if you bring your own bottle (hello Starbucks, Dunkin and Peet’s). If you’re like me and drink A LOT of coffee and water all day long, you could save yourself as much as $1,500. That’s a huge savings, let alone all of the bottles and coffee cups that aren’t going into the landfill.
Shop Local: Depending on where you live, farmer’s markets can be seasonal or year-round. Visit them. Take advantage of them. They aren’t just vegetables; you can find many awesome products there at a fraction of the price. Also, learn from them. The people doing the selling are more than likely the ones that are also doing the growing. Which means those vendors know exactly what they used when growing the food you are about to ingest. Bonus: you can save lots on organics. And even if a product isn’t considered organic, ask. You may learn that they use sustainable practices, but haven’t pursued the certifications yet. Take your own reusable bags & totes and leave knowing that you just saved some cash and unnecessary packaging waste.
Shop Smart & Prep Right: Buy only what you can eat before it goes bad. I am often guilty of having eyes bigger than my stomach, but the truth is that food waste is a huge problem. Americans throw out an average of 40% of their food each year, mostly due to poor planning. Take a list with you. Plan out your week. If you aren’t going to have an opportunity to eat it, don’t buy it. Things will come up, it’s inevitable. An unexpected brunch invite from a friend or a late night at the office could mean ordering in. When that happens, the prep is key. Take 30-minutes when you get home from the farmer’s market to wash, chop and prep everything. This way it’s ready-to-go when the hunger strikes or easy to toss in the freezer for later.
Skip The Brown Bag: But take the lunch. Packing your lunch everyday can sound old-school, but the truth is, it will save you a ton of money, it’s usually healthier and it’s better for the environment. You are in control of what’s on your plate, instead of being at the mercy of whatever restaurant you can get a meal from on your quick lunch break. Plus, when you take your own reusable containers (hello Pyrex and stainless steel bentos) you aren’t dealing with the mess of your food being wrapped in trash. You can save yourself $200 a month just by packing your own lunch.