As an MDA Worker Bee always on the lookout for new Primal dishes I’ve developed a few tricks. My favorite method is by scanning different restaurant menus and then finding substitutes for highly-processed or high-carb ingredients, and through a system of trial-and-error, creating a new Grok-inspired treat.
Last week I wandered around Brooklyn’s Smith Street to see what I could do about the strange wintry-food yen I was experiencing (how could I crave hot stew in 90 degree weather?). I discovered it was not so strange – there are plenty of people enjoying winter eats even in the crux of July. Beef stew, macaroni and cheese, pork shoulder are all top menu items even while city temperatures skyrocket. When I asked a staff member at one of the restaurants why these items stayed so popular, even during months when people would seem to want lighter fare, he replied these meals were “the most satisfying.” Good taste, I suppose, knows no weather.
How to Shop
3. Buy off-label/store brands
4. Negotiate at the Farmers’ market
5. Shop at a warehouse club for select food items
6. Buy local
7. When on sale, stock up
8. Buy in bulk
9. Buy frozen veggies
10. Buy canned veggies
11. Use coupons
12. Shop the perimeter. Don’t buy processed/branded food items.
13. Double coupons
14. Check with grocery store to see if they accept expired coupons
15. Don’t buy things just because they are cheap. If you don’t end up using it no matter how cheap it was it’s lost money.
16. Put “blinders” on while in the checkout aisle. Avoid making last minute impulse buys.
17. Check the unit price on grocery store price tags
18. Bring your own bags. Some grocery stores will give you cash back for using your own.
19. Check your receipt. Even computers make mistakes.
20. Comparison shop – Buy from the cheapest grocery store (Whole Foods is expensive)
21. Use a grocery store membership card
22. Don’t shop hungry
23. Make a shopping list and stick to it
24. Only buy veggies the day you are going to use them to avoid spoilage/waste
25. Buy from ethnic food stores
26. Have a budget and stick with it
27. Shop at roadside markets
28. Shop alone
29. Buy in-season
30. Check expiration dates before buying
31. Minimize travel time to grocery store. Fewer trips and staying local means less gas spent.
32. Only buy organics when it makes sense
33. Do all your grocery shopping on one day of the week, and don’t spend money on food the rest of the week, no matter what.
34. Give yourself a per-day rate. $12/day? $8/day? $5/day? Once you’ve spent that much on food, you can’t spend anymore until the next day.
35. Pay with cash. People tend to spend less when they pay with cash.
36. Don’t be tricked by the “5 for $5.” Most grocery stores give the discounted price even if you buy a single item unless the tag specifies otherwise.
37. Ask for a rain check if the store is out of the sale item
38. Check for purchase limits
39. Check for sale offer requirements (need to buy 2 to get deal)
40. Get cash back rewards from your credit card company
Prepare Your Own Food
41. Prepare your own food. Clean and chop your own greens instead of buying pre-packaged. Grate your own cheese. Dice your own veggies. Make your own ice. Food manufacturers charge a premium for convenience.
42. Learn to cook
44. Reuse coffee grounds
47. Pack your lunch for work
48. Make your own coffee
49. Find cheap recipes and use them often
50. Use cheap ingredients to spice up a meal
51. Don’t dine out (see #42)
52. If you must dine out and you have children use this iPhone app: KidsEatFree
53. If you eat out, share a dish. Many restaurants serve enough food for two people.
54. Don’t buy appetizers, desserts, or drinks at a restaurant
55. Avoid Starbucks at all costs
56. For fine dining, go during lunch. Many four star restaurants have separate lunch and a dinner menus. The dishes are all the same, it’s just a change in price.
57. Don’t pay for other peoples’ food. If the server won’t split the check, don’t be the person to be paid back later. We all know how well that works out.
58. 1 Beer at an L.A. Bar = 24 beers from the Liquormart = 48 generic cans of vegetables. Just stand around with a glass of water in your hand and pretend to be drunk.
Odds and Ends
60. Join a CSA
62. Don’t be wasteful. Eat your leftovers.
63. Hunt for dinner
65. And that includes inexpensive organ meats
66. Ditch specialty beverages and stick with water
67. Be adventurous. Try new things (the things that are cheaper).
69. Ditch alcohol
71. Eat less. Eat slower and practice portion control.
72. Experiment with Intermittent Fasting
73. Drink tap water instead of bottled water
74. Use the power of Google to find recipes for old pantry and freezer food items
75. Give up coffee
76. Eat calorie dense foods
77. Be prepared. Primalize your pantry and fridge, and keep it well stocked so you don’t find yourself tempted to order delivery.
78. Start your own farm
79. Recycle cans and bottles
80. Visit relatives. Most relatives offer food.
81. Learn to fish. This has worked for thousands of years.
83. If it is bite sized and you have to unwrap it, it’s probably not worth buying.
84. 90% of all meals can be prepared with a knife, a pan, and a flame. Don’t buy the de-crusting 5 minute magic grill cheeser. Don’t buy the juicer. And don’t, DON’T buy the slap chop.
85. Let the kids help with dinner. Don’t let them help with the grocery shopping.
86. The value meal has no value. Avoid this junk food at all costs.
87. Antioxidant juice? No. Try an antioxidant multivitamin supplement: orders of magnitude stronger, half as expensive, and 0 grams of sugar.
88. Substitute meat for eggs in some meals
89. Raid your great grandma’s recipe book. She cooked during the Great Depression. She knows the ropes.
Just for Fun
(because coming up with 99 ways to save money on food is much more difficult than saving money on food)
90. Stock up on free condiments from fast food joints, truck stops, cafeterias, and yes, churches.
91. Go to funerals. There’s always food at funerals.
92. Sign up to be on email lists for churches, support groups, political causes, and enthusiast clubs. Social groups often arrange get-togethers with free food to entice people to show up.
93. Abuse buffets
94. Want cheap eggs? Buy a chicken. You’ll be surprised at how many they can pop out.
95. Dumpster dive. Many grocery stores have a policy of throwing out certain foods after a certain number of days. Befriend your grocer, and ask him/her to set aside the toss-outs for you.
96. Try Responsibly Slim (shameless plug ). Where else can you get a well-rounded, delicious, quick and easy meal replacement for a buck and change?
97. Make like Ghandi and fast for a cause
99. Stray cats. (What? Meat is meat. Right?)