Grocery prices are back on the climb, thanks to yet another record setting drought and heat wave this summer. This reality coupled with, which for many is the back-to-school season and the result is a nation of households with some pretty tightly pinched food budgets.
Were you aware that not only can spices can help you lower your grocery prices but there are tricks for getting spices for less? That’s right…nice prices with spices. And no coupons necessary!
Nice Spice Price Tip #1. Avoid processed, prepackaged convenience.
With better nutrition and exceptional health benefits real food really, truly does cost less than their processed counterparts.
Instead of this: 16 oz. frozen green beans with olive oil, shallots and herbs: $4.49 (Wegmens price).
Do this: A quick scan of the ingredient list reveals that you’re paying a premium for about 5 min. of prep work along with a few preservatives. Wondering what “herbs” you’re paying for? Parsley.
Buy a 16 oz. bag of plain green beans (about .99) and a bunch of fresh parley, which checks in at about $1.29. True, olive oil is spendy but invest in a bottle and you can use it for nickels per tablespoon. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a sauté pan on medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of minced shallots (cook until soft) then toss in a small handful of chopped parsley. Sprinkle some sea salt on top and you have your green bean sauce…minus the preservatives.
If you prefer butter, here’s a quick and easy brown butter sauce with herbs.
Lower the price even more by loading up on a huge bag of fresh green beans at the farmer’s market (about $1/bag) then rinse, chop and freeze for multiple servings of frozen green beans.
This approach isn’t limited to frozen foods. You pay a premium for pre-packaged pasta and rice with herb sauces.
Nice Spice Price Tip #2. Be green to save some green.
Instead of this: $4 bags of frozen blueberries. Green bell peppers at $2.49 a pop. $3 hothouse tomatoes.
Do this: Stocking up and freezing can save you a significant amount of money over the year. Right now, sweet red bell peppers are going for about $3 per bag at the farmer’s market. Tomatoes and zucchini? They are practically giving them away. Yes, prices are low for these goodies in the grocery store now…but that won’t be the case during the winter.
So buy piles of fresh, local and inexpensive fruits and vegetables. Chop, slice and freeze. Slice and/or dice and lay on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper. Once frozen, bag ’em up. this avoids having them freeze into one big clump. This winter, when you want red peppers you have them without paying $3.49 PER PEPPER! Blueberries, autumn berries, green beans, zucchini and tomatoes are all excellent candidates for the buy-in bulk-freeze-for-later approach. After all, just because we’re on a budget doesn’t mean we should be excluded from delicious, wholesome food. You just have to know what to do. And now you do. 🙂
Remember that $4.49 bag of herbed green beans? With this method you’re down to less than $1.
Try purchasing kale and dehydrating it (My 12 year old LOVES these—and they are definitely a super food in terms of health).
When you pull out your fresh frozen foods—open the spice cupboard. Hundreds of flavor combinations are waiting to help you eat healthier and feel better. Here’s a Mexican spice combination to get you started.
Nice Spice Price Tip #3. Bulk up.
Instead of this: Spices in the baking aisle are displayed in those alluring little jars with prohibitively expensive prices.
Do this: Discover the financial joy of bulk spices. Even if your store doesn’t carry bulk bins there is probably a place where spices in less glamorous packaging are sold. In Wegmens, my go-to favorite grocery store, spices are sold in three different sections. So keep your eyes open. Several years ago I saved a chart put together by a clever writer who goes by the name TipHero who did some price comparison footwork.
Now are you convinced that bulk is worth a look? Save even more by purchasing the whole spice and grinding your own spices when you need them. Whole spices, especially bulk whole spices cost much less. Grinding them also gives you more intense flavor so you really get top notch taste from your spice investment. For example, you can get a bag of whole nutmegs AND a nutmeg grater for about $10 –about the same as 3 jars of pre-ground nutmeg. The fresh tastes a whole lot better, you get much more spice, and when properly stored, whole spices last much longer.
Hint. Lately, especially in the McCormick spice section, you will notice a trend towards roasted spices. Roasted cinnamon or cumin, for example. You pay a premium for these fire cooked spices. Why pay extra when it’s so easy to dry roast your own spices? Bonus–makes your home smell like a dream!
Another hint. Bulk spices are also often found in ethnic grocery stores or online.You can score free spice by ordering bulk spices from MySpiceSage.com who gives you a free 1 oz. sample with every purchase.
Nice Spice Price Tip #4. Simplify.
Instead of this: A jar of honey dijon mustard easily costs anywhere from $3.50-$7.
Do this: No need to purchase 2 jars of mustard. Invest in a good jar of Dijon and when you need honey Dijon, make your own. The ratio is up to you but start with about 2 tablespoons of honey for 3 tablespoons of mustard.
With a little planning and a few minutes of prep you can enjoy significant savings at the grocery store. Plus you get the benefits of eating healthier, preparing quick fresh food for you and your family. Besides, it works. Our lower grocery bills allowed our family to rent stand-up paddleboards (SUP) in the Finger Lakes and spend the day doing a 2 mile paddle with swimming breaks. Now that’s a sweet deal!
For more spice savings check out the Spice Freebies section. It’s updated once/month.
What’s your favorite way to lower your grocery bills? Do you do any of the suggestions here or have anything to add?