Cooking on a Budget
Shopping and cooking on a budget can be a challenge for the best of us. But there are plenty of ways to save money, stay on a budget, and still eat well. Here are some suggestions for eating within your means.
Cook from scratch
Buying premade products or eating fast food is convenient but as a general rule, using basic ingredients to cook meals is the most economical. For example, cooking dried beans vs. using canned beans saves a significant amount of money. Finding regular time to prepare meals from scratch may feel daunting but you can reduce the time with tactics like cooking more than you need for one meal and prepping ingredients ahead of time.
Buy what’s in season
It might be tempting to buy asparagus in February but that winter squash is a much better value. Stick with seasonal ingredients when they are freshest and priced most reasonably. (The exception to this is if there is a sale on frozen out of season produce in which case you can stock up.)
Use up what’s in your pantry and freezer
If you’re like most people, your pantry and freezer are stuffed with enough food to feed your family for a week without even going grocery shopping. Whenever your freezer starts to get full, do an inventory and plan the week’s meals based on what is in there and the pantry. This is a good way to avoid food waste too by using everything before it expires.
Store food properly
Store pantry and freezer items in airtight containers so they don’t lose their freshness prematurely. And have you ever reached for a bag or box of old flour or grains and found bugs crawling around inside? Yuck! Be sure to keep flour, sugar, dried beans & grains, dried fruit, and herbs & spices in airtight containers. Mason jars, ziplock bags, and plastic take-out containers all work well.
Buy spices, grains, and beans in bulk
If you buy your spices and dried herbs in bulk, you will save a tremendous amount of money because you can get only what you need. If a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon, you can buy just 1 teaspoon and not waste money on a fancy jar and way more spice or herb than you can use in a year before it goes stale. Beans and rice and other grains are also reasonably priced.
Save money by avoiding food waste with these clever ideas:
- Did your partially used can or jar of tomato paste go moldy again? Avoid this unfortunate waste by freezing tomato paste in individual dollops and then storing the dollops in a zipper plastic bag in the freezer.
- Make your own broth with vegetable scraps and meat bones.
- Keep things that need to be eaten soon in the fridge at eye level and in the front so it doesn’t get overlooked.
- Use the FIFO rule…first in first out. If you buy a quart of milk before the last one is used up, make sure you use up the “old” one first.
- Store leftovers in clear containers so you don’t forget what’s in them.
- Divvy up larger packages of ground beef, chicken breasts, etc. into smaller packages and freeze what you don’t need now.
- While you’re at it freeze other stuff too: leftovers, cheese, bananas, rice, beans, tomato products, cooked pasta, milk, bread.
- Make your own breadcrumbs from stale bread. (Blitz bread pieces in a food processor, spread on a sheet pan and toast in a low oven until crisp.)
Follow all these tips for saving money when shopping at Oryana.
- Co+op Basics – Co+op Basics offers a variety of popular, affordable grocery and household staple products throughout the store. We are working hard to give you fantastic prices on some of our best selling pantry essentials. To find these products, just look for the purple shelf tag.
- Field Day Products – Offered through our distributor, United Natural Foods, Field Day is a mostly certified organic, in-house brand, featured at a reduced price. Field Day is only available at independent natural food stores and is an excellent, lower priced, high-quality alternative to current brands.
- Co+op Deals – Check out our Co+op Deals grocery sales flyer, a twice-monthly publication that offers great deals and specials on many of the high quality national and regional brands you love.
- Bulk and Produce Specials – Our bulk department has great monthly specials and the produce department has weekly specials so be sure to check those out.
- Wellness Specials – Our wellness department has monthly specials as well as our very own competitively priced line of high quality private label vitamins and supplements.
- Wine Discount – Get 10% off when you purchase 6 or more bottles of wine.
- Senior Discount – Every day for the first hour, shoppers 60+ get 5% off. Just let the cashier know.
- Alternative Transportation Discount – Arrive at the store via bicycle, on foot, carpool, or public transportation and get 5% off your bill. Just let the cashier know.
- Managers’ Specials – Look for extra savings with Managers’ Specials throughout the store on various products
- Special Order Discount – Owners may order by the case and get up to a 20% discount, 25% in bulk preorders. Special orders of items not regularly carried in the store are also available. Place your orders at Customer Service.
- Buy in Bulk – Shop our bulk department for great savings on all your pantry needs. Buy only what you need and save with less packaging.
- Owner Appreciation Month – As an owner perk, we have Owner Appreciation Month 4 times per year. Owners get 10% off one shopping trip.