When I’m enter my local groceries store, the first place I head is the breads, fruits, and vegetables sections, where I look for items on 50% discount because they have to be consumed “soon”. I head there first because pending what is on discount for almost immediate consumption, that will influence what else I will or won’t be buying to a large extent. I might as well know what my new shopping parameters are rather than having to put things back later when I discover these discounted items and give them priority. It’s a system that has worked well for me, and for many reasons far beyond the obvious savings.
Reducing potentially wasted food. In North America, we waste 40% of the food we purchase. That includes food for the home, restaurants industry, groceries stores, and anywhere else where food is bought. Forty freaking percent! It’s an absolutely stunning number! That’d be like you eating only two meals for every five you make, or throwing out two apples for every five you bought, and so on! It may be more stunning to me because, on average, I only have to throw out about ten dollars’ worth of food I bought a year, out of a roughly $3300 annual budget! That’s about 1/3 of a percent, and ten dollars compared to $2193 if I wasted 40% of the food I bought, since I’d be expecting to eat the same amount of food ($3290), but as 60% of my food budget rather than 99.67% of it! Now, no one person or corporation or country is going to solve this food waste problem on its own, but you know, take the environmental approach to do your part being the fair level of expectation. I don’t sweep the sections clean of discounted food by any means, but I save at least $10 a week from it, on average.
Ability to buy foods deemed “overpriced”. The market might determine “fair” price from economic theory, but there are a lot of foods everyone of us deem overpriced. That is, we wouldn’t pay the asking price for it because we don’t deem it to be good value, for whatever reason/s, fairly so or not. However, I’d bet you a lot of those foods on your list would be deemed to be at least decent value, if not good value, if they were half their regular price. I’m not talking about foods you’d never eat because you can’t stand it. I’m talking about just economic value here. I’m no different, and every once in a while, I’ll get a treat where foods I deem are overpriced are now in my value range and I will buy it and eat it happily knowing I got a great deal on it! My favourite example is raw snap peas that are an expensive snack, in my books. I could easily balloon my annual food budget if I just ate all the snap peas I could want on top of everything else!
Diversifying and improvising my diet. I make an effort to try new foods every week or two, but my grocery purchases look quite similar throughout the year. In prioritizing discounted fruits, vegetables, and bread, I get to add a lot more variety to my diet than I would normally find incentive to while thinking about near future meals. It seems the groceries stores where I live are quite good at their supply control, discounting a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and break week to week rather than only a few, for which you would expect them to learn and correct if they were frequently ordering in excess. They do the work for me to diversify my diet.
Improvising my diet. With the meals, there will occasionally be some new or unexpected dishes in the days following discounted food purchase, so as to consume the discounted food before it goes bad. There may even be some cooking challenges as I might not know what to do with the discounted foods as some are relatively foreign to me, or the combination of foods discounted that day. I don’t have to completely throw out my meal plans for this, though. Most of the food will be fine for at least 3-4 days, if not a week like some breads are. I also freeze some discounted foods between purchase and consumption, like the occasional discounted meat and fish, even if only days apart, to ensure that food won’t go bad on me by consumption day. As a bonus, every now and then, I’ll even end up making something I enjoy so much it becomes a staple in my diet or meal plan!
A little forced gratitude. This one is slightly extreme that I wouldn’t recommend to everyone, but it works for me. Every now and then, I want to get certain foods, but since something else I liked less was on discount, enough to last for a handful of meals, I will make myself buy the discounted food rather than the ones I wanted, and eat it. It’s a reminder that I didn’t always have the luxury to always buy what I wanted to eat like I do now, and that lots of people don’t, even in my own community, so that I should be really grateful for it.
In buying discounted foods, I get to save money, help the environment, treat myself, diversify my diet, get some good surprises, challenges, and/or fun in my life, and even the occasional chance to step back and be grateful for what I have. How much more could I expect of anything, never mind slightly old food? How could I not do this every time I’m in a grocery store?