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Podcast #38: How to Grocery Shop as an Adult
Grocery shopping is a skill most of us don’t develop in college. In fact, the majority of us subsisted off of dining hall points, pizza rolls, and the fumes of last night’s White Claw marathon. As an adult, you can kiss the dining hall staff goodbye (we’ll miss you) and say hello to a new friend: Market Basket.
In this episode of Adultescence podcast, we dive into tips around how to grocery shop, including ways to save money on groceries and how to reduce food waste… because let’s be real, we’ve all been the aspirational grocery shopper who buys a bunch of kale, only to watch it rot in the fridge throughout the course of the week.
How to Not Waste Half Your Groceries
The first and most important tip in this arena is to go to the grocery store with a plan. Sure, you can deviate here and there (we all need to buy some spontaneous snacks at Trader Joe’s), but generally, know what you’re looking for and what you need.
To do this effectively, take stock of what you already have before you leave. Calling your roommate in the middle of the grocery store to ask how many boxes of pasta you have left is both time-sucking and likely to result in a broken lease.
Even better than taking stock every time you go grocery shopping? Keep a running inventory list in your pantry and update it whenever something gets used.
Another tip is to think of recipes that will allow you to use up what you already have. This way, you can strategize and use the last few sweet potatoes that only have a few days of life left in them first, and plan to buy other groceries that match those items. Pretend you’re on Chopped. So risotto is out of the question.
Finally, bring your own reusable bags. Not only are they easier to carry into the house than plastic or paper bags that rip and tear, they are also a good way to keep you accountable. If you know that you only have four bags, challenge yourself to just buy as many groceries as will fit in them. Also, sustainability is hot. Maybe you’ll bond with Mr. Right in the checkout aisle as you compare notes on your favorite reusable totes.
5 Tips for Saving Money on Groceries
We also cover various ways to save money on groceries in this episode. Keep in mind that it’s worth spending a little more on groceries if it means you won’t order UberEats 20 times that week. Which would actually be an impressive feat in and of itself. Kudos.
1. Keep an eye out for sales.
This isn’t an audition for Extreme Couponing, but you can take a few extra seconds comparing the various pasta sauce options and choosing the cheaper one. Plus, paying attention to prices while you’re shopping means you’re more likely to notice when there is a great deal in the future.
2. Only buy what you will actually eat.
We’ve all been there – you’re on a health kick, and you swear you’re going to eat a dozen bananas this week. But then you don’t (duh) and they all rot and you end up throwing them away. See also: avocados.
It’s fine if you want to eat healthier, but start small. Buy a few new healthy items that you have a plan for, and then return to the grocery store with a more ambitious list next time.
3. Aim to buy less overall.
Really… how many cans of corn does a girl actually need? Put… the fifth box of pasta… down.
4. Don’t go when you’re hungry.
It’s cliche advice for a reason: grocery shopping when you’re hungry is a mess. You’ll never eat twelve boxes of Fruit by the Foot, but an empty stomach is hard to argue with.
5. Buy the foods that you crave – even in a healthier version.
If you know that you always have a huge craving for pizza at some point in the week, consider buying a frozen pizza or two to have on hand. This will discourage you from ordering takeout mid-week.
Or maybe your weakness is ice cream – a pint of Ben & Jerry’s from the corner store will be way more expensive than it is at the grocery store. Buy the things you know you’ll want and have them on hand so you don’t have to spend extra money on food during the week.
For more on how to grocery shop, listen and subscribe to Adultescence podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts.