One way to save on grocery bills while serving top quality food is to be a conscious shopper, making sure that you are buying the best ingredients. Not only will they taste better, they will handle more consistently and last longer in storage. Here are some examples.
In the grocery store recently, I was picking over the green beans. Another customer came over and also started to sort through the beans looking for good ones. The bin had a mixture of nice, firm bright green beans, mixed in with some that were limp, likely from moisture loss. Others were dark green with age. You can also tell those because the seed inside is easily seen in the shape of the bean. Some had brown or black spots, while others were broken. Not that they were all bad. Maybe about a third of the beans were discards. While we shopped, a lady came over, grabbed a bag and stuffed in handful after handful of beans, without even looking at them. She paid 33% more for the usable portion than the other shopper or myself.
I usually buy cauliflower from the open bin instead of getting a cello wrapped head. While the stuff in the open bin may be a bit older, it is usually trimmed of any darkening on the head and has most of the scrap leaves and stalks trimmed from the base. Last time, however, there was none in the open bin so I had to take a wrapped head. When I got home, I trimmed and weighed the package. The edible portion was 440 grams, just short of a pound, while the scrap was more than half of the total, making up 460 grams. At $3.49 a head, that comes out to $3.60 a pound, or $7.92 per kilo, for the edible portion. If I recall, the cauliflower in the open bin is about $6.00 per kilo. At least, now I have a basis for comparison for the next time I go grocery shopping.
One of the new things in supermarket groceries, at least in my area, is tomatoes on the vine. The idea is somehow that because they are on the vine, they are better. I wouldn't disagree, but I never buy them as-is. While making sure that the tomatoes I take have the produce sticker on them so that checkout knows what I am buying, I twist each tomato off of the vine. Why? For two reasons. First, I don't like to pay for the inedible stalk. At least as importantly, if I take them as a bunch on the vine, I am frequently forced to take some that are over-ripe. Under-ripe ones aren't as much of a problem, unless I plan to use them all immediately. By picking the tomatoes individually, I save about 20% of the cost.
So, by checking carefully, I can save maybe 20 - 30% on the cost of produce, which translates to something like $8 - $12 per trip.
Oh, and to the nice lady who just stuffs handfuls of beans into a plastic bag, thank you. By not picking through the produce you buy, you reduce the grocery store's wastage, which translates into lower prices for me.