Special Report

Signs That You Spend Way Too Much Money on Food Shopping

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6. You buy out-of-season produce

Sure, it’s tempting to reach for those bright red tomatoes or those luminous yellow peaches when it’s snowing out. But not only are they unlikely to have the flavor of their summertime equivalents — they’re likely imported from far away, which means they both have a sizable carbon footprint and will almost certainly cost more than they would in season.

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7. You buy pre-cut produce

Supermarket produce departments are now full of plastic tubs containing bite-sized pieces of melon or pineapple, broccoli separated into florets, halved Brussels sprouts, and such. Sure, they’re convenient. And sure, they’re expensive — probably more expensive than you realize. A couple of years ago, Vice did a study comparing whole and pre-cut produce from various New York area supermarkets. Among the disparities they found: red onions for 49 cents a pound whole but $4 a pound diced, and organic butternut squash for $1.29 a pound whole and $4.80 cut into chunks. Their conclusion was that peeling and chopping food yourself could save you $100 or more a month.

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8. You buy only the priciest cuts of meat

We should all probably be eating less meat than we do (assuming that we eat it at all), for our health and that of the environment — but also because good meat costs a lot of money, especially if we buy only prime cuts like T-bone steak, rack of lamb, or pork loin chops. Meats like these can be delicious, of course, and are worth the splurge on occasion. But cheaper cuts — which may require longer cooking (like braising or stewing) or long marinading or even sometimes physical pounding to tenderize them — generally have more flavor.

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9. You buy pricey ingredients you’re only going to use once

It’s admirable to want to try cooking new dishes, possibly from unfamiliar cuisines — but are you likely to use that rare spice, unusual sauce, or uncommon pickled vegetable more than once? If not, maybe try leaving it out of what you cook, or considering another recipe. People’s pantries are full of aging exotic foodstuffs that haven’t been touched in years.

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10. You buy staples at specialty stores

Upscale boutique markets might be great when you want to buy top-quality meats or unusual cheeses or a little jar of caviar, but the everyday stuff — the onions, the dried pasta, the milk — will almost certainly be more expensive than at the regular supermarket. To cut food costs, make two stops.

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