Do you know that we can save on groceries and still eat well? A complete supermarket is a haven for culinary ideas, however I cannot spend luxuriously for I must follow a budget.
Over many years of strolling through mall supermarkets, I’ve learned a few tricks that help me find the right ingredients, cook our family favorites and still control expenses.
Tapa and tocino are always requested to be included in our menu at home, due to steep prices of meat, what I do is I ask the butcher to cut meat thinly so a kilo goes a long way, dividing it into 3 or 4 servings and pack it separately for easy and orderly stacking in the freezer.
I opt to buy fruits and vegetables in season, then planning my menu around it. Fresh fruits and vegetables are cheaper when they’re in season. If fresh produce is not in season, prices skyrocket, so If it’s not in season, I buy canned or dried. Fresh mushrooms, for example are delicious used in soups and pasta dishes, but dried shiitake mushrooms are perfect alternatives with longer shelf life.
I also learned to consider house brands. Mall supermarkets take the lead in coming out with their own brand at much lower cost to consumers. Their palm cooking oil, sugar, some condiments like vinegar and tomato sauce are good buys, but of course you have to first test these items if it suits your standard.
When buying expensive ingredients, I make sure these ingredients can be maximized in a number of recipes. It’s all in the meal planning, I compute for usage over wastage. Some of these expensive ingredients are giving unparalleled flavor compared to cheaper alternatives. Realizing that practicality without good taste is a waste of time and money.
When I can’t decide which item comes out cheaper, I do the math. Items in foil packs of different sizes are much cheaper than the ones in glass jars or cans though having the same name of brands. I buy cooking oil, mayonnaise, coffee, ketchup, etc in foil packs and then simply refill their empty jar or container in the kitchen.
When it comes to buying luncheon meat, corned beef and sardines, I simply choose locally made. Filipino canned goods manufacturers are producing high quality products that compete flavor for flavor with imported brands.
I also buy dry goods in bulk. A kilo of sotanghon or spaghetti gives better value than smaller packs. Toiletries such as toothpaste, toilet paper, mouthwash, shampoo, etc. are cheaper to be bought in their big packaging for longer usage to save time and money going to the grocery every now and then.
You may try to look out for special deals, but you have to be aware that usually these buy 1 take 1 or discounted grocery items are just a month or a few months shy of their expiry dates.
I compare prices too, especially when it comes to laundry detergents and fabric conditioner, I bought a few of the cheaper brand and found out that its quality is not far behind from the popular expensive ones.