“Any step that the manufacturer has to do is going to cost you more money,” Greenfield says. “It’s like buying a block of cheese versus shredded cheese. Shredding your own cheese takes a few more minutes, but it’s going to be cheaper if you just buy the block.” The same goes forbeans: When you buy a bag of dried beans and cook them (instead of buying precooked canned beans), you’ll spend less and end up with three times as much food. Consider this the golden rule of grocery shopping: The less processed your purchases are, the lower your bill will be.
“It’s intimidating to try and make simple stuff you wouldn’t really think to cook on your own, like chickpea flour or mayo, but it’s really easy,” Greenfield says. Think about all the pantry staples you normally buy packaged—condiments, pasta sauce, chicken stock, pickles, nut butters—and try making them on your own. The extra investment of time will keep money in your pocket and unnecessary additives out of your food.
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