Thursday, April 14, 2016

Bein' Green Savin' Green at the Supermarket Part 1: Sprouts

Too often I hear complaints about how difficult it is to shop healthily at a supermarket. I frequently see people gravitate toward the junk food aisles or the substandard meat counters. People would rather purchase a $1 burger at McDonalds than a pint of berries for the same price. The real issue is the lack of knowledge about how to purchase pricy organic items for a fraction of the price. Just because a product is labeled as $4 does not mean that it needs to be purchased at that amount. I am starting this series of saving money at various supermarkets in hopes that it will encourage people who are on a budget to purchase more wisely. There are plenty of ways to cut back on your spending, while still enjoying the most lavish meals you can find at your neighborhood supermarket.

I am kicking this series off with one of my favorite stores: "Sprouts Farmer's Market". This store has been gaining momentum in the last couple of years and is continuously opening new locations throughout the US. While they are now mostly in the West, I do not doubt that they will soon be making their way to the East. What I love most about Sprouts is that they are like a more affordable version of Whole Foods. They do not have as wide of a variety as Whole Foods does, but they do have a large selection of organic and vegan products. Their selection seems to be growing as well, as they are constantly securing new partnerships with budding businesses. I love shopping at Sprouts for their fresh and tasty produce as well as packaged items. Their beauty items are also very affordable.

Here are some helpful tips to make your Sprouts trip more cost effective:

* It's best to shop on Wednesdays. Both week's ads apply, so there are double the sales occurring. It's more likely that you'll find a good produce item on sale on this day and berries have a tendency to be the cheapest on a Wednesday.

* Make sure to look through their monthly coupon book, which can be found at the front of the store alongside the weekly ad.  Many of the items that are in there also go on sale at some point during the month. You will find yourself with some big savings purchasing it on sale on top of using a coupon.  I once paid $2 for 2 large seventh generation items when it was on sale as BOGO and then used a coupon for additional savings.

* Just like clothing, a lot of great seasonal items are often deemed as unsellable. Or perhaps the store just got a surplus of items and they aren't selling as well as the store intended. Those items can often be found in the clearance section, usually located in the back of the store.  Sometimes individual sections have their own clearance items, particularly the frozen and refrigerated areas. One of my most memorable purchases was a pack of shredded Daiya cheese for a mere $1. My homemade pizza couldn't have tasted better that night.

* Often Sprouts will have a sale, but since it's so popular, the item will sell out quickly. You will find yourself at the store staring at an empty shelf, wishing you had come 15 minutes earlier and maybe you would have scored that pack of kale chips that is half off. No need to fret and curse aloud at that slow car that was ahead of you that delayed your trip. Just purchase the items that you are able to find and while you check out, ask the cashier for a rain check. Sprouts is amazing with both writing and honoring their rain checks. They will allow you to use it during a future visit and purchase as many items as you wish, honoring the sale weeks later.  Recently, one of my favorite cold pressed juices, Forager Project had an amazing BOGO sale. I went a couple of times during the sale, but the juices were never in stock. I got a rain check, and then came back a few weeks later when I found myself craving those luscious juices. I purchased 6 juices, which came out to only $18 total. $3 for cold pressed juice is unheard of, so I was thrilled to be able to take advantage of this deal.

* Lastly, Sprouts has fantastic brand sales throughout the month. Sometimes Sprouts greatly discounts its own brand and often they focus on a select group of brands and slash their prices. I've never been much of a morning fan, but since I've been recovering from back surgery, I've found myself craving a sweet breakfast in the morning. I was thrilled to discover Nature's Path Organic cereal because not only is it flavorful, but it also provides a lot of great health benefits, such as as Omega-3s. I'm also obsessed with the all of the crispy and crunchy textures the cereal provides which is right on par with my high expectations. This cereal was 40% this past week, so I made sure to stock up until I'm fully recovered.

Sprouts is my all time go to store when it comes to both health and saving money. My only hope is that they will continue to expand nationally, so I can access it when I travel. I also would love for the store to have a prepared foods section that matches Whole Foods, since I'm sure it would be way more affordable. I cannot wait for my next Sprouts shopping trip and wish that they would open up a store down the street from me, so I could shop there every day!