Inflation has made everything expensive, but groceries have been hit particularly hard. Between January 2022 and January 2023, the average cost of groceries went up 11.3%. Groceries are so expensive for a few reasons. Many industries are still experiencing supply chain issues post-pandemic, unpredictable weather patterns have caused issues in agriculture, and global conflict (such as the war in Ukraine) has disrupted normal production and supply. It all amounts to higher prices at the grocery store and a larger chunk of your paycheck going towards dinner.
Considering this is an area of our budget we can’t exactly give up, we needed to figure out how to save money on groceries and still eat healthy.
The Best Way to Save Money on Groceries
There’s a sneaky way to save money on groceries — and it has nothing to do with coupons. It’s all about rescuing food that a regular grocery store might otherwise let go to waste.
Grocery stores have specific standards for produce in order to carry it on their shelves. Fruits and veggies need to be within specific size ranges, be a particular shape, or be free from scarring and discoloration. These standards have nothing to do with taste, but with cosmetic appearance and meeting customer expectations. If produce doesn’t meet these standards, grocery stores won’t take it and the food often goes to waste.
For pantry items, beverages, and snacks, brands often change their packaging (or sometimes have a typo on the bag). They don’t want to sell to traditional grocery stores because it impacts brand perception, but the food is still exactly the same.
In theory, these standards are great — they ensure all the food in our stores is of uniform quality. But in practice, the guidelines are pretty arbitrary. An apple is still delicious whether it’s small or large, and chips taste the same no matter what the bag looks like. Judging food by these standards means a lot of it goes to waste. And by a lot, we mean 20 to 40%.
This is a massive and unnecessary waste of resources, and it’s awful for climate change. But there’s something we can do about it.
As consumers, we can flip the script on those stringent standards and choose to buy food that doesn’t meet traditional grocery store standards. They’re not available just anywhere, but we know where to look.
Shop Misfits Market to Save on Groceries
Have you heard of Misfits Market? Founded in 2018, the online grocery began just selling ugly produce. They’ve since expanded to offer a full selection of produce, meat, dairy, snacks, and pantry items.
Misfits Market partners with farms and food producers across the country to reduce food waste and save you money. Because farmers and food brands are selling to Misfits at reduced rates, they can offer you groceries at a discount. Truly a lifesaver during inflation!
Misfits carries both organic and conventional produce ranging from strawberries to kale and everything in between. The avocados might be small, or the broccoli might be big, but it’s all still perfectly safe to eat, naturally grown, and delicious.
As for other food — like snacks, pantry staples, meat, dairy, and seafood — Misfits Market takes advantage of overstock buys, packaging mishaps, and more. They might buy excess Christmas cookies in January, or Easter lollipops in May. Everything is still within its expiration date, it’s just not as attractive for grocery stores to sell anymore. That’s what makes Misfits Market the easiest way to cut your grocery bill and fight food waste at the same time.
Make Your Groceries Count
- Cut the leaves off your carrots and store them in water to keep them crisp and fresh
- Wrap greens like lettuce and kale in a clean, damp towel and store it in the fridge
- Store herbs like cilantro in a jar of water like flowers and put them in the fridge (except basil—it hates cold)
- Trim the leaves off root veggies like beets and radishes to keep them from going soft
- Keep potatoes in a dark corner of the pantry separate from onions (when they’re together, potatoes grow eyes and onions can get leaky)
- Store citrus in the fridge to keep it fresh longer, but move it to room temp at least an hour before eating to get the most flavor
Shopping Misfits Market is also a great way to expand your palate and try new foods. If you’re ever strapped for ideas on what to make, they have a whole blog of recipes to try, from this Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Cheddar Cheese Crisps to this Creamy and Coconutty Cocoa. You can search by main dish, side dish, dessert, or drink, or filter by vegetarian or vegan options.
More Tips for Saving Money on Groceries
Make the most of your grocery haul by eating every bite. Here are a few great ways to waste less food and cook delicious meals at the same time.
1. Freeze herbs in oil
If you want to save money and waste less food, your freezer is your best friend.
Have herbs that are starting to wilt? Chop ‘em up, fill an ice cube tray with oil, and drop your herbs in. Freeze until solid, then move from the tray into a bag or jar. When you’re ready to cook, pop the cube into your pan for added flavor.
2. Make your own veggie broth
Save your veggie scraps to make your own broth. Carrot ends, celery roots, and pepper cores make a flavorful veggie broth (especially when combined with some chicken bones, if you’re a meat eater). Collect anything that isn’t bitter (so skip the kale ribs, broccoli stems, and Brussels sprouts trimmings) in the freezer until you have a pot’s worth. Then cover with water, add some salt and a bay leaf, and simmer for an hour or two until it smells flavorful. Strain and use in place of store-bought broth. Food and money saved all at once!
3. Make eat-down-the-fridge meals
Stir fries, omelets, and pasta dishes are super forgiving when it comes to ingredients. You can easily add whatever veggies you have on hand (whether already cooked or raw) and add in proteins and spices.
Get comfortable with a few go-to sauces—like a teriyaki stir fry, a chili crisp to top eggs, or marinara jazzed up with some garlic and basil—and eating down the fridge will feel like fun rather than a chore.
Get Creative and Save Money
There’s not much we can do about inflation or the economy, but we are in control of what happens in our own kitchens. For us, that means choosing how we grocery shop and using every last bit of the food we buy.
Shopping rescued food is good for everyone: the planet, our stomachs, and our wallets.
Interested? Shop Misfits Market Here.
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