When you live in a vibrant city full of interesting restaurants, eating out can get expensive, quick. After you’ve seen the bills from constantly ordering take out or trying every “must-try” hotspot, you may want to start grocery shopping and cooking at least part of the week. But in many cities, a trip to the grocery store can seem much more expensive than in the suburbs—because it is. Depending on where you live, groceries can be more expensive for a number of reasons (higher rent for the store owners, for one). However, shopping strategically and cooking at home will be worth the extra effort. Here’s how:
Shop in Season
Whether at the farmer’s market or in the store, you’ll often find that in-season produce is not only fresher, it’s cheaper. For instance, strawberries that cost $8 in December (and taste like cardboard) might be half that price over the summer.
Consider Online Delivery
Yes, in most cases, you will pay more for the convenience of getting your groceries delivered. But, sign up for the mailing list for your preferred service and you’ll get a notice when there is a free delivery window (or pay for a yearly subscription, which will be much less than weekly delivery fees). It’s easier to price shop and buy only what you need when you’re doing it in the comfort of your own home, instead of rushing through a store.
Join a Co-Op
Many urban centers have food co-ops where you can put in a little sweat equity (volunteering stocking shelves, for instance) in exchange for reasonable, high quality groceries. Plus, joining a co-op is a great way to make friends if you’re new to the city.
Download an App
Sure, clipping coupons is great, but nowadays many grocery stores are making it easier than ever to use them by providing them in an app. That way, if you have your phone, you’ll have your coupons—no more forgetting them and only realizing it at the register.
Try Different Stores
Walking a few extra blocks, or shopping near your office, might lead you to discover cheaper options than at your usual grocery store. If you have a big list and don’t want to drag your groceries too far, convenience might be worth a splurge. Otherwise, consider thinking outside of your neighborhood to save some money.