It’s important to eat well as a strength athlete. The core of our philosophy is that food isn’t just fuel; it’s also recovery. As fuel and recovery, food may play one of the most overlooked roles in your training. But I’m a real guy who doesn’t make a ton of money. So how do I balance the need for a lot of quality meat, produce and dairy with the rising costs of groceries? Well, first and foremost, I make my grocery budget a higher priority than other than things in my life. I don’t have extras on my cable package, I try to avoid having a car payment, and I avoid going out to eat. Beyond that, there are four other tips that my wife and I use on a weekly basis when we go grocery shopping. These help us tremendously, and they’ll help you save anywhere from $10-50 a week on your groceries.
- Make it yourself. Buying most things pre-made is a surefire way to jack up your grocery bill. By learning a few simple cooking techniques, you can make grilled chicken, potato/pasta salads, dressings, pasta sauces and more at home. You’ll shave off about $10 a week off your grocery list, and you’ll know exactly what goes into your food: no mystery preservatives or chemicals. The rare exception: those rotisserie chickens sold at grocery stores or places like Costco. Those are much cheaper than raw whole chickens.
- Plans your meals around sales. By far, this tip will save you the most money. On average, there are usually 3-4 meats on sale at my local grocery store, as well as 5-10 types of fruit and vegetables. By planning my meals around the meat on sale and purchasing mostly the discounted fruits and veggies, I save about $40 a week on groceries. Once you watch the sales ads for a few weeks, you”ll start to learn what good prices are for certain products. Stock up on these big sales and keep your freezer full of meat on the cheap!
- Buy in bulk. Certain foods can be purchased cheaper when you purchase large amounts of them: rice, beans, and ground beef are all great buys at most warehouse stores like Costco. Be sure to compare the bulk price against the typical sales price at your local grocery store, though. Sometimes your local stores will be cheaper.
- Buy frozen fruits & veggies instead of fresh. Oftentimes, frozen produce is actually better for you, as it’s processed at its freshest and frozen quickly, preserving the nutrients that tend to breakdown in the transport of fresh produce. Plus, their frozen counterparts tend to be cheaper as there’s less risk for spoilage.
Using the above tips, my wife and I are generally able to keep our grocery bills at a reasonable cost. Considering how much food I eat, I’m pretty pleased that we manage to spend less than $500 a month. These are also great tips if you’re looking to upgrade your meat and produce to organic. Use the money you save to cover the price increase of higher quality products.
How do you save money? Tell us in the comments below!