4 Credit Cards for At-Home Gourmet Chefs

Gourmet chefs who love cooking elevated cuisine at home should consider these money-saving credit cards that offer great food-related rewards.

[DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]

Cooking at home is a way to hone your skills and try new dishes without having to shell out big bucks at a fancy restaurant. When making gourmet cuisine from the comfort of your own home, there are plenty of ways to save money on quality ingredients. Cooking every day can end up being expensive, especially if you’re making food that’s organic or exotic.

All of your grocery shopping and driving expenses can add up, so if you’re someone who loves to cook elevated food at home, you’ll want a credit card that rewards you for your spending. Read on for our picks for the best credit cards for at-home gourmet chefs. (If you plan to apply, be sure your credit score is high enough to qualify. You can check two of your scores for free on Credit.com.)

1. Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

Rewards: 6% cash back at the supermarket on up to $6,000 of purchases per year. Any purchases over your $6,000 limit will still earn you 1% cash back. Additionally, there are 3% cash back rewards on gas.
Signup Bonus: $150 statement credit after spending $1,000 on your new card within the first three months.
Annual Fee: $95
Annual Percentage Rate (APR): 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for a year, and then variable 13.99% to 24.99%.
Why We Picked It: The rewards are excellent and the APR can be relatively low, depending on your creditworthiness.
For Gourmet Chefs: This card is perfect for someone who spends ample time grocery shopping and cooking to their heart’s desire. The gas rewards are great if you’re someone who loves to scour faraway, specialty markets for the most authentic tahini paste.
Drawbacks: If you prefer to shop for ingredients online instead of spending at supermarkets and gas stations, this card won’t hold as much value for you.

2. PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Card

Rewards: You’ll get 3% back on all supermarket purchases, 5% back on gas purchases and 1% back on all other purchases.
Signup Bonus: $100 statement credit after spending $1,500 in the first 90 days.
Annual Fee: None
Annual Percentage Rate (APR): 0% intro APR on balance transfers for a year, and then variable 9.74% to 17.99%. 9.74% to 19.99% on purchases.
Why We Picked It: The intro APR (for balance transfers) period is long and the rewards are extremely good, plus there’s no annual fee.
For Gourmet Chefs: With all the points you earn, you can redeem rewards like dining gift cards and trips to food destinations, so this card is perfect for any foodie looking to spend on food in order to receive amazing food-related rewards.
Drawbacks: You have to become a member of the Pentagon Federal Credit Union.

3. Chase Freedom

Rewards: 5% cash back on up to $1,500 of purchases per quarter for rotating spending categories, unlimited 1% cash back on everything else.
Signup Bonus: Earn a $150 bonus after you spend $500 in your first three months from account opening. Also earn a $25 bonus after adding an authorized user and making your first purchase within the same three month period.
Annual Fee: None
Annual Percentage Rate (APR): 0% introductory APR for the first 15 months. Then, variable 15.99% to 24.74%.
Why We Picked It: There’s no annual fee and the rotating reward categories are beneficial for those who like to spread out their rewards.
For Gourmet Chefs: The rewards categories vary from gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants so this card is perfect for a chef who likes to explore and try new foods. You’ll get 1% back on cookware and cookbooks, too.
Drawbacks: The APR is relatively high, and you don’t get to pick your own rewards categories. They’re selected each quarter by Chase.

4. Golden 1 Platinum Rewards

Rewards: 3% cash back on gas, grocery and restaurant spending, plus 1% cash back on everything else.
Signup Bonus: None
Annual Fee: None
Annual Percentage Rate (APR): 7.79% to 13.79%.
Why We Picked It: There are solid rewards and low rates, and no annual fee.
For Gourmet Chefs: Considering all the groceries you’ll be buying, you might as well save money while you expand your culinary repertoire at home. Plus, California is a large state — if you find yourself driving great lengths for food then this card is for you.
Drawbacks: You have to live in California to apply for this credit card, and there’s also no introductory APR period.

Image: Peopleimages

At publishing time, the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express, PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Card and Chase Freedom card are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

The post 4 Credit Cards for At-Home Gourmet Chefs appeared first on Credit.com.

Mochi, Poke, Burgers, and More! How to Take Advantage of the New Options at Whole Foods

If you haven't been inside of Whole Foods lately, you'll be amazed by the new options they're offering — from mochi to fresh juice, they've got everything.

If you haven’t been to a Whole Foods recently, you may be surprised by the changes happening in some of their larger stores. Many stores have changed their look and moved toward a business model that keeps customers in the store longer whether they’re eating, hanging out or shopping. Several of the new changes have gotten some attention online, like their mochi station and wine bar. (These updated Whole Foods features aren’t in every store, so check your local Whole Foods store to see which perks are available.) Here’s a look at some of these new features.

Do-It-Yourself Food Stations

Mochi Bar

This newest addition to Whole Foods has gone viral on Instagram and Facebook. People are obsessed with mochi, a delectable handheld Japanese ice cream. Some Whole Foods stores now have a mochi bar where you can mix and match your favorite flavors of mochi, and take them home in a to-go container.

Trail Mix Station

The bulk section of a grocery store is anything but novel, but Whole Foods takes the personalization factor to the next level. Their new “Make Your Own Trail Mix” station features every trail mix staple imaginable. It’s easy to grab a container and create the trail mix of your dreams.

Bakery

Instead of waiting in line for a busy bakery assistant to help you at a counter, you can now grab a variety of Whole Foods baked goods yourself. From brownies to cookies to doughnuts, you can pick up whatever you want.

Gelato Counter

At Whole Foods, an employee can serve you smooth, rich gelato made in-house daily. This creamy treat will keep you happy as you peruse the rest of the store’s pickings. Gelato flavors include banana pudding, double dutch chocolate, pomegranate, and more. They also have vegan options such as berry sorbets.

In-Store Restaurants

Custom Poke Bowls

Poke, raw fish salad hailing from Hawaii, is a big food craze right now. The salad can be light and healthy depending on which toppings you add. Whole Foods sells custom Poke bowls, so essentially you choose your fish, sauce and toppings and an employee prepares it for you. A bowl costs $9 to $14 depending on the ingredients.

Diner

You don’t need to leave Whole Foods to find a diner with a classic, old-timey feel. With the exception of booth seating with red upholstery, this diner has much of the fare you’d expect. They have milkshakes and any type of burger you could want — including a vegan option. Some locations also offer poutine, a Canadian staple made of french fries, cheese curds and gravy.

Smokehouse

If you’re a meat lover, you’ll appreciate the new Smokehouse addition to Whole Foods stores. They have classic barbecue picks as well as rotisserie options, so there’s something for everyone. Their almost life-changing brisket burnt ends are must-tries. (While you’re at it, check out 50 things you must eat before you die!)

Taqueria

If you live in or near El Segundo, California you’re lucky enough to have the Korean-Mexican fusion spot, Kogi Taqueria, inside your Whole Foods Store store. Their specialties include short rib tacos, kimchi quesadillas, and classic burritos. They also have Korean hot wings. Outside of El Segundo, several stores have traditional taquerias with classic rice, beans, and other authentic Mexican picks.

Pizzeria

The smell of fresh pizza is always enticing, so the Whole Foods pizzeria definitely wins with their pies featuring delicious toppings. You can order your favorite pizza by the slice or a whole pizza to go. The pizza is made fresh.

Juice Bar

Whole Foods focuses on promoting a healthy lifestyle, so the addition of a juice bar aligns with their brand. You can choose a juice from their menu that’s made to order, or buy premade options for a cleansing experience or quick snack.

Wine Bar

If you want the advice of a sommelier without having to fly to France or Napa, look no further than your neighborhood Whole Foods. After scouring the wine selection, you can pick a wine and pour a few glasses to enjoy in the store before bringing the rest of the bottle home. Don’t want the whole bottle? You can also order a glass or two per recommendation of the staff. They also have charcuterie boards and cheese plates to accompany your wine choices.

And More!

Some of the larger Whole Foods stores also have Allegro Coffee Bars, cocktail bars, ramen stations, and more. If you live near one of these deluxe Whole Foods stores, be sure to explore those options even we haven’t tried yet. (And, while you’re there, remember to stick to your budget!)

Natural Skin Care

Whole Foods is primarily a grocery store, but they sell more than food. Some stores offer clothing and bags made of natural materials. Whole Foods holds its skin care products to high standards. On the Whole Foods website there’s a list of more than 75 ingredients that aren’t allowed in the skin care products they sell. Most of what they sell is plant-based and natural, which appealing to anyone trying to lead a more organic lifestyle. Whole Foods doesn’t support products tested on animals and they even feature numerous vegan product lines. The products they sell vary from makeup to hair care to facial and body soaps.

Cooking Classes

While some Whole Foods stores have had cooking classes for a while, several stores have recently started hosting classes. Their classes are aimed at beginner or intermediate home cooks, and some are even open to teenagers. If you love shopping at Whole Foods but don’t know how to cook many dishes, these classes are perfect, as they feature ingredients from the store and focus on easy-to-replicate dishes. You can also save on the ingredients by using our tips for saving money at Whole Foods. Good luck becoming a master of local, organic cuisine!

When shopping at Whole Foods and indulging in all of these fun perks, remember to stay on budget! There are a lot of great rewards credit cards that give you cash back when spending on groceries. These cards often require decent credit, so before applying check your credit score to see if you qualify. You can get two credit scores for free at Credit.com.

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6 Ways to Stop Blowing Your Grocery Budget

Saving money on groceries doesn't need to be difficult and it doesn't always mean cutting back.

If you’re like many Americans, a large chunk of your budget is spent on food — maybe 10% or more. Percentagewise, we spend less on food than we did in the ‘60s, but 10% is not an insignificant portion of your income.That’s why so many money-saving articles focus on groceries as a great place to cut back on spending.

And the truth is that grocery spending is so variable. You could spend $200 per month to feed your family of four, or you could easily spend more than $1,000. With all that variability, it can be easy to blow your budget for groceries. If you find that you’re consistently spending more than you’ve budgeted for groceries, following these tips can help with saving money:

1. Figure out If Your Budget Is Even Reasonable

One issue might be that you have an unreasonably small grocery budget. Maybe your budget is inspired by a few articles from Pinterest about feeding a family of seven for a mere $250 per month. Let’s get real, though. Those families (often the moms!) spend hours meal planning, cooking from scratch, clipping coupons and driving to various grocery stores to snag the best deal.

Their results are amazing but that amount of effort isn’t feasible for everyone. As a working mom in a two-income family, there’s no way I can spend that much time saving money on food.

So if you’ve budgeted $150 per month to spend on groceries, maybe that’s not enough. Here’s how to find out:

a. Break Down Your Spending by Category

First, dig out your grocery store receipts from the past several weeks. If you don’t usually keep receipts, make a point to save them from your next few shopping trips. Shop as you normally would for those trips.

Then, break down your grocery spending by category. For instance, you might divide it into meat, dairy, breads and grains, premade items, veggies and fruits, etc. If you purchase items like cleaning products, cosmetics or toilet paper during your grocery shopping trips, divide those into a separate category as well. Remove everything that’s not actually grocery store spending from this category. Fast food and restaurant spending should be dealt with separately.

Once you’ve got your categories, add up what you spent in each category over the course of a month. This may not be a true average, but it’s a starting place.

b. Set a Reasonable Budget

Finally, you can see what you actually spend on food groceries. Now it’s time to see if that budget is reasonable. A good place to start is with the USDA Food Plans, which average the cost of cooking at home each month. In May 2017, the USDA thrifty plan for a family of four was $561 per month. The liberal plan for a family of four was $1,097 per month.

If your food spending is close to the thrifty end of things, maybe you’re actually not spending too much on food. Maybe you’re just setting your budget too low. But if you’re coming out on the high end of food spending — or if you want to outdo the USDA — use the following steps to trim your spending.

2. Look for Savings in Your Highest Spending Categories

Since you’ve got your spending categorized, you can easily find out where you spent the most money. For instance, if you’re consistently spending half your food budget on meat, it’s time to start cutting back there — perhaps by eating meatless meals a few times a week. Or maybe you’re spending a bunch of money on prepared meals that you could make much more cheaply at home.

Once you know where you spend the most, you can target that category for reducing spending. Some options include clipping coupons for items in that category, shopping manager’s specials, or simply cutting back on eating those types of foods.

3. Look Into Different Local Grocery Stores

There’s a reason Whole Foods is nicknamed “Whole Paycheck.” It’s a great place to find certain specialty items. But if you’re doing all your grocery shopping at high-end stores like these, you will spend more.

Our family saves a fortune just by shopping at Aldi, a discount grocery store that’s becoming more common across the nation. We used to do most of our shopping at a local chain but realized we saved a couple hundred bucks a month just by buying what we can at Aldi.

Chances are you’ve got some cheaper grocery options local to you. For instance, ethnic stores can be a fabulous place to pick up exotic spices and basics like rice and pasta on the cheap. Or you may find that a wholesale store membership saves your family a ton on food staples. Plus, you can use reward credit cards while shopping to earn even more deals. (Before applying, remember that most reward cards require a decent credit score — you can check two of yours for free with Credit.com.)

4. Create a Bank of Easy-Fix Meals

If your family is anything like mine, quick to prepare weeknight meals are a necessity. Without them, you fall back on going out to eat. Pinterest is a great place to find recipes for quick and easy meals that rely on whole, healthy ingredients.

Start trying out these types of meals. If you find a hit, keep the recipe close by. Try to find at least a few of these recipes that use ingredients you tend to keep around.

5. Do Some Freezer Cooking

When you find a great sale on expensive ingredients, pick up extra. Then, double up on your recipe, and put half in the freezer. This is a win-win. You get to save on groceries, and you have a meal ready to go for a busy evening!

For instance, if you find a great deal on ground beef, buy enough to make two lasagnas. Make them both at the same time, and pop one in the freezer. If you get into this habit, you could suddenly find yourself spending less on expensive ingredients, and you’ll have a freezer full of delicious meals to choose from.

6. Cut Back on Waste

How much of your grocery budget goes down the drain the form of wasted food? If you’re like most Americans, it’s a lot!

Start keeping a tally of the foods you throw away after they go bad. Keeping track for a month or two could reveal some interesting information. Maybe you’re over-ambitious when you buy fruits and veggies. You think your family will eat them, but you never get through them all. Or maybe you consistently throw away leftovers. It’s time to freeze those leftovers, pack them for lunch or make smaller servings of your recipes.

Cutting back on waste is an amazing way to save on groceries. Make a point to wait to grocery shop until the fridge is nearly empty. You’ll get more specific with your grocery shopping and more creative with your meal plans.

Even if you’re already saving on groceries, there’s usually room to save more. These tips will help you do just that.

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15 Ways to Save at ShopRite

Whether you hate grocery shopping or find it incredibly relaxing (seriously, some people do), one thing you’re bound to appreciate is saving at the store. If ShopRite is your go-to grocer, try using some of these tips to cut back on what you spend there.

Here are 15 ways to save at ShopRite.

1. Create an Account Online

Sign in to your ShopRite account online to load coupons from their Digital Coupon Center directly onto your Price Plus Club Card (more on that below). You’ll also get access to your past purchases and shopping lists, recipes, a tally of your Price Plus points and more.

2. Join the Price Plus Club

Members of ShopRite’s Price Plus Club get instant cash discounts on hundreds of items throughout the store at checkout, as well as special offers and promotions (like free items around the holidays) and exclusive mailings and offers.

3. Shop the Circulars

Set your home ShopRite location online and gain access to weekly circulars with tons of coupons and savings deals happening right now at your nearest store.

4. Check Out Their Offers & Promotions Page

Every now and then (especially around the holidays), ShopRite will offer additional ways for customers to save through sweepstakes and other contests that often offer gift card prizes. Visit their Offers & Promotions page frequently to see what’s happening.

5. Take Advantage of the SavingStar Program

Join the SavingStar program by setting up an account, then check out the offers page to see what’s available for a discounted price. Click on the offers you like and they’ll get linked directly to your store loyalty card. Use your card at checkout and the savings will be added to your SavingStar account. When you reach $5, you can select which method of payout you’d like.

6. Use a Rewards Credit Card

Some credit cards reward you handsomely for grocery shopping. See American Express’ Blue Cash EveryDay Preferred, which offers a whopping 6% back on up to $6,000 per year at U.S. supermarkets (1% after that), 3% at U.S. gas stations and 1% everywhere else. (Full card review right here.)

Just be sure to pay any balance you put on a cash back credit card off in full — otherwise, you’ll lose those dollars to interest. (You can see how your credit card balances are affecting your credit score by viewing your free credit report summary on Credit.com.)

7. Use ShopRite From Home for Additional Coupon Codes

If it’s available in your area, customers who sign up to use ShopRite from Home can check out the Shop Rite from Home promotions page for access to even more deals, like discounts on delivery, savings on health and wellness products, baby and pet items, etc.

8. Load Up on Manufacturer Coupons

ShopRite will accept these! (You can find its coupon policy here.)

9. Know Your Store’s Double Coupon Policy

While double coupon policies vary by store — you should check your specific store for more details — most Shop Rite stores will double up to four identical coupons per household per day on manufacturer coupons up to $0.99. (Use a nifty little Double Coupon App that you download to your smartphone to determine if your coupons will be doubled or not.)

10. Find the Catalina Machine

Catalina machines are usually located on the side of the register (ask the customer service rep if you aren’t sure if your local ShopRite has one). Most of these deals require you to purchase a certain dollar amount or quantity of product before you can use it on your next purchase, but once you do so the savings can really add up.

11. Stock Up During the ShopRite Can Can Sale

Though this sale only happens once a year (usually in January), it’s worth the wait to stock up on grocery goods, especially non-perishable items, throughout the store when it does.

12. Seek Out the Wall of Values

When you’re in your local ShopRite, make a beeline for the Wall of Values — usually right by the front door near the produce section — for dry goods on discount.

13. Make Use of $10 Deals

If you have the room, $10 Deals help customers save by allowing them to stock up on bulk items for just $10. Be on the lookout for $10 Deal signs.

14. Search Online for More Coupons 

Use sites like Retail Me Not and Coupons.com to find promo codes and coupons for the grocery store.

15. Follow ShopRite on Social Media

The grocery superstore shares all their biggest sale and coupon deals on their Facebook and Twitter sites, so be sure to follow them for the latest offers.

Want more brand hacks? You’re in luck — we’ve got 19 ways to save at Target right here. And, if there’s a brand you’d like us to tackle, shout it out in the comments section. 

At publishing time, the Blue Cash EveryDay Preferred credit card from American Express is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

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Whole Foods Plans to Cut Its ‘Whole Paycheck’ Prices

The days of 16-cent breakfasts may be ending — that is, if Whole Foods makes good on its promise to lower prices.

The days of settling for 16-cent breakfasts may be ending — that is, if Whole Foods makes good on its promise to lower prices.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that the Texas-based company is taking steps to put its expensive, “whole paycheck” reputation behind it due to pressure from investors who want the organic grocer to behave more like Walmart. However, experts warn shifting to a similar centralized distribution structure could tarnish the brand, which sells locally grown produce.

The company’s in deep water with stakeholder Jana Partners, which wants to see swift operational changes and a reversal of what the Journal described as Whole Foods’ “longest stretch of same-store sales declines since going public in 1992.”

For consumers, that means Whole Foods will be pressed to compete with the likes of Kroger and Albertsons, which have steadily been dipping their toes in the health-conscious market, and that prices will drop.

“Our culture is still very unique,” co-founder John Mackey assured the paper, but the company now has a tall order to mesh its style with big-box performance.

What that will look like in practice remains unclear, though Mackey said the new strategy will make it easier for national brands to pitch at Whole Foods’ Austin, Texas, headquarters, which in turn will enable the company to pass on “tremendous savings” to shoppers. For now, the future of Whole Foods — and its prices — are hazy at best.

How to Save at Whole Foods 

Most Whole Foods shoppers are used to paying a premium for their health-conscious food. But there are ways to save on your groceries when shopping at Whole Foods, as Credit.com contributor Kristy Welsh notes. Here are a few of her tips.

BYOB. Bring your own sack to shop, and Whole Foods will give you up to a 10-cent discount on your purchase. Shop weekly and use five bags each time, and you could save $26 over the course of the year, Welsh said.

Buy What You Need. Don’t hesitate to ask the butcher to take out one of those steaks in the pre-wrapped packet. Or to ask the baker for a half loaf of rye. They’ll do it for you, and the price will be cheaper as a result.

Download the App. With coupons and weekly sales in one place, the Whole Foods app is a handy resource for on-the-go savers. You can also check for upcoming sales.

If all else fails and you still find the price of your groceries too high, a rewards credit card can help you earn points for spending — and there are even some that offer higher rewards when you purchase groceries. Just don’t forget to check your credit before you apply to make sure you’re able to qualify, as these types of cards tend to require you have higher credit scores. You can view two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.

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How Millennials Are Changing the Grocery Store

Here's why fewer and fewer millennials are going grocery shopping.

Next time you run to the grocery store for bread and milk, you might find yourself staying for a champagne tasting. Or seduced by Comice Pears. Or perhaps you’ll just stay home and cook the elicoidali pasta and mascarpone cheese from your Blue Apron box.

The digital age has changed how we shop for everything, and now food is front and center on the disruption list.

It’s hard being an old-fashioned grocery store these days. Adults, for the first time since such data was recorded, are spending more money eating out than cooking in. But even when they do buy their food, the market is enduring what analysts coldly call “grocery channel fragmentation.”

Pam Danziger, a luxury goods expert, said simply that young eaters are on the hunt for something “distinctive and different.”

Small, boutique food shops that are part-restaurant, part-brew pub, part-exotic grocer are all the rage.

“I find more and more that millennials are looking for special experiences,” said Danziger, author of the book Shops That Pop. “They are not just looking for products. They want a better quality service experience from people who really know their stuff.”

They don’t just want a good pear. They want to know why that pear goes great with that salad. And they might even want to know who grew that pear.

“There’s nothing like going to specialty wine store where [workers] can really advise you on what you are getting,” she said. “This has happened with food now.”

It’s not just happening in hip urban areas on the coasts. Danziger points to small independent food retailers, like Dorothy Lane Market, in Dayton, Ohio, (with its Comice “Holiday Pear”) as examples of a national trend that seems to have staying power.

The do-everything grocery store is struggling to stay relevant in this environment — that’s why shopping carts have cupholders for craft microbrews sold by the growler now — but don’t make the mistake of thinking huge grocers have always ruled the food world. They are a relatively recent development, dating back to the 1930s, when food preparation time shrank as more women entered the work force. Specialty grocers echo a time before that, Danziger said, when everyone “bought local.”

“In the 30s, everyone went to the local butcher,” she said. “What is old is new again.”

Web-Surfing for Groceries?

Well, not everything. On the other end of the digital spectrum, consumers are increasingly skipping the shopping trip altogether and letting the specialty groceries come to them.

Home delivery isn’t new either: Firms have been trying to find the right formula to ship cereal and produce to homes since the beginning of internet time (Remember Webvan? Perhaps you’re not old enough). Blue Apron and competitors like Hello Fresh and Plated seem to have hit on a winning formula by combining the convenience of delivery with the quest for special experiences.

Unless you’re living under a rock or are over 38, meal-in-a-box firms neatly package ingredients and recipes with dry ice, and send it to your home with simple preparation instructions. For about $10, a fairly small meal and about 30 minutes of work, aspiring chefs can feel like culinary experts.

The rise of the meal-in-a-box business has been meteoric. Blue Apron said it delivered 500,000 boxed meals in 2013, and now it delivers 8 million boxed meals a month. HelloFresh, a German competitor, is eyeing a possible public offering next year.

“I don’t think we’ve seen shopping change so dramatically ever,” Marty Siewert, senior vice president for consumer and shopper analytics at Nielsen, told the Wall Street Journal. “Those things in the past that have been real drivers for grocery in terms of freshness and quality aren’t the key drivers for millennials.”

All these changes are occurring against a dramatically different grocery landscape. The Food Marketing Institute’s annual report is full of data showing how grocery shopping is in the midst of a revolution. For example, the days of one member of a household buying the food at one nearby grocery store are essentially over, the FMI said.

“Shoppers increasingly rely on a broader number of less traditional channels, or claim no retailer as a primary store,” it noted in its report.

Meanwhile, the majority of households now employ “co-shopping” or “shared shopping.” That means both partners in a marriage buy groceries — often because one doesn’t agree with the other’s taste in food, the report said. That means more trips to more stores.

“Traditional grocery store as a primary channel has dipped to just below half of all shoppers,” the report said.

Online shopping is still small but growing. While only 5% of shoppers say they use online-only retailers “regularly,” another 15% say they have done so occasionally, up from 11% in 2015. When you ask only millennials, the market segment uptake is even more impressive: 28% of those 18 to 37 have bought groceries online.

Frugal Foodies

Digital is driving food shopping in other ways, too. Nearly 60% of millennials say they use digital coupons, and 66% say they look up recipes online while shopping. (If you’re looking for frugal meals, by the way, try this 16-cent breakfast.)

And lest you think they are only shopping for high-end arugula, one factor still trumps all others for food shoppers both young and old: price. That holds true for co-shoppers and specialty shoppers alike. All those groups say lower prices are the biggest factor in where they’ll shop, with nearly twice as many shoppers prioritizing savings over variety and quality.

Still, Danziger is sure that food consumers want more than iceberg lettuce and white bread, and the retailers who give them better experiences will survive the changes.

“People are looking for a higher quality of life, that’s what this is all about,” she said. “Retail success will be less about what you sell and more about how you sell it.”

No matter how you choose to grocery-shop, it’s important to stay on budget. High levels of debt, related to artisanal cheese or otherwise, can hurt your bank account and your credit. You can see where your credit stands by viewing two of your free credit scores, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

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7 Ways to Save at Wegmans

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Several years ago, while driving through upstate New York, we stopped at a grocery store my friend from the area absolutely raved about. I had never heard of Wegmans and was a little surprised we were stopping there because it was lunchtime.

Little did I know what was in store for me!

In the years since, and after a Wegmans opened near my home in Maryland, I’ve come to appreciate how well they run and how it’s a pleasure to shop there.

If you’re a fan and looking to save money at Wegmans, here are my best tips.

1. Coupon Doubling Up to 99 Cents

Wegmans has some of the most competitive prices, but did you know they will also double coupons with a face value up to 99 cents? There are a few rules to keep in mind, such as the doubling or face value of the coupon cannot exceed retail price and you can only use four manufacturer’s coupons on four of the same product per day.

If the coupon’s face value is $1.00 or more, it will be redeemed at face value (no doubling).

2. Join the Shoppers Club!

Wegmans has a Shoppers Club, like many other stores, but not only do you get discounts in the store, you’ll be sent mailers that often include more coupons. You will also receive the Wegmans Menu Magazine which often has great recipes and other fun educational articles.

3. Use the Wegmans App

The Wegmans App is a rich-featured shopping-list app that integrates nicely with your local store. You can create your shopping list at home and it will give you your total, pulling prices from the store. This can be very helpful if you’re on a tight budget and help you plan your trip better.

In the store, there are signs throughout that, when scanned with the Wegmans app, reveal videos, recipes, and product information. The app also gives you access to the Wegmans Menu magazine and can pull recipe ingredients from the recipes.

If you have a favorite money saving app, you may want to stick with it. If you don’t and go to Wegmans often, consider using theirs.

4. Create a Shopping List Online

If you don’t have a smartphone, or don’t want another app, you can always create your shopping list on the Wegmans website. Afterwards, you can print it out and see exactly how much the trip will cost you.

The list will organize ingredients based on the store’s aisles, which can save you a ton of time in the store.

5. Consider Wegmans Brand

Most stores’ generic brands are mediocre but not Wegmans – some of their products rival the brand names in quality. Nearly every category of product, from frozen pizza to sauces and packaged baked goods, has a Wegmans brand and they’re usually good and well-priced. At my local Wegmans in Maryland, a 29 oz. can of tomato sauce will cost you just $0.79 versus big brand name tomato sauce priced at $1.69.

6. Don’t Miss the Hot Food

Most grocery store hot food bars can be depressing affairs of overcooked food that’s overpriced. Wegmans has an impressive food bar with nearly every kind of food imaginable, but where they really shine is in two areas — sushi and the burger bar.

The sushi is delicious, fresh, and well-priced, especially if you compare it with a sushi restaurant. If you don’t see what you like, you can make special requests and they are happy to make a roll or package you want. The burger bar is a full-fledged restaurant and they offer a variety of great burgers and sandwiches that are also well-priced.

7. Personal Shopping

If you are short on time, Wegmans offer “personal shopping” where they will get everything on your shopping list and deliver it to your car. You need to place the order online the day before but you pay for it without ever having to leave your car. It costs just $5.95 with no minimum order. It’s not available at every store though, sadly. It is available only in three locations – the flagship store in Pittsford, New York, and the stores in Bridgewater and Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

Finally, if you live in a state where grocery stores can sell beer and wine, give their bargain wines a shot (just remember to drink responsibly). At just a few bucks a bottle, what do you have to lose?

[Editor’s Note: You can monitor your financial goals, like building a good credit score, each month on Credit.com.]

Image: Willowpix

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8 Ways My Slow Cooker Saves Me Money

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When I was first married 20 years ago, I received two slow cookers as wedding gifts. I had only used a slow cooker a couple of times, so I didn’t know if I would use them. Little did I know just how much I would come to love them. Not only did they save me time, I discovered that they saved me plenty of money as well. Here’s how.

1. Planning Meals

Using a slow cooker makes me plan ahead. I can’t come home and just throw something into the slow cooker, and have it ready within an hour; I have to plan ahead! By doing this, I spend less at the grocery store, and I end up using up all of the items I buy each week, too.

2. Not Eating Out

You know how it goes: You have a busy day, and then come home only to realize you have no clue what to make for dinner. So, you swing through the drive-thru, and pretty soon you’ve spent a lot of extra money each month. On days like this, I like to use Crockpot Freezer Meals, where I do all of my prepping for a week of meals at once. That way, I come home to a healthy home-cooked meal, even when I don’t have the time.

3. Not Buying Convenience Foods

When I neglect my slow cooker, I usually end up stopping by the store on a daily basis. I come home with things like frozen burritos, frozen pizzas and other pre-packaged foods that end up costing me more. When I use my slow cooker, however, I eat healthier home-cooked meals that taste better than pre-packaged convenience foods.

4. Cooking in Bulk

If you have a large slow cooker that holds 6 to 7 quarts, you can make big batches of food to serve your family for more than one meal. If you prefer not to eat leftovers, freeze them for another meal later in the month. My favorite thing to cook in bulk is Slow Cooker Chili. It makes a huge pot that feeds our family of nine. We usually eat it as chili for the first meal, then chili dogs or served over baked potatoes for the second.

5. Eating More Beans

Eating beans on a regular basis saves money. You can use them in place of meat or stretch out your meat dollars by replacing a portion of the meat with beans. (This works best with ground beef.) Of course, just eating a big pot of beans works well, too. When I was growing up, we would eat pinto beans to stretch the grocery dollars. As an adult, I discovered my favorite pinto beans recipe was one where I slow cook the beans in spices and top them with cheese and sour cream.

6. Saving Time

When I use slow cooker recipes, I spend a lot less time in the kitchen. And since I like to do my cooking preparation a week at a time, I can prepare 6 to 7 dinners in an hour or two, eliminating the need to cook each evening. If you think of your time as an hourly wage, you could free up a few hours each week to spend on making money elsewhere. You could use that extra time to work on your home business or other money-making venture. If you don’t have another way to make money, consider using extra time to find a side income.

7. Saving on Electricity

Using your oven during the summer heats your house. Your air conditioner has to stay on longer to cool it back down, which costs more money. By using your slow cooker instead, you are saving money on cooling costs.

8. Saving Scraps

If you have leftovers of any vegetables or meats, place them in a baggie in your freezer. Eventually your bag will be full, and you can turn it into vegetable soup that you can make in the slow cooker. It’s like having a free meal!

[Editor’s Note: You can use this free tool to track your financial goals, like building good credit scores, each month on Credit.com.]

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7 Free Tools to Help Calm the Back-to-School Chaos

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Whether you’re working or a stay-at-home parent, back-to-school season can get rough. Between strict schedules, meal planning, homework, and maybe even extracurriculars, life just gets a bit chaotic.

Luckily, technology can make things a bit easier on parents. With all the apps available today, there are loads of great free tools that can help you handle everything from schedules to meal planning. Here are seven of the best free — and really cheap — tools to try this back-to-school season.

1. Google Calendar


While there are plenty of great calendar apps on the market, Google’s still takes the cake. Available for iOS and Android, the interface is great on just about any screen. It lets you choose different views, from one month to a daily agenda, or a custom view like two or three weeks. Plus, you can easily share Google Calendars with a spouse or your older kids, so that everyone syncs up seamlessly.

One of the best things about Google Calendars, though, is the ability to set up multiple calendars. Use one for work events, one for personal appointments and one for the kids’ school schedule. You could even keep a separate calendar for each member of the family. Each calendar will be color-coded, so you can get an at-a-glance idea of what’s coming in any given week.

Two other great Google Calendar features: reminders and repeating events. With reminders, you can set up alerts on your phone for repeating or one-off events. You can even make sure Google keeps reminding you until you check the reminder as complete, so you don’t accidentally blow off making that important appointment. And with repeating events, you can quickly add regular events to your calendar.

2. Google Keep

Again, there are multiple note-taking apps on the market, but Google Keep is definitely worth checking out. This simple app lets you take notes or create to-do lists that look like sticky notes. You can organize them by category, and you can even color-code the notes to match your calendar colors.

The best thing about Keep is that you can share notes with others. You can, for instance, keep a running grocery list in a Keep note that you share with your spouse. That way whoever has time to stop by the store on a given weeknight has the list ready to go.

3. Cozi


Cozi combines some of the functionality of Google Keep and Google Calendar. It comes in a free and paid version. The free version runs ads. The paid version comes with additional features, including a birthday calendar and contact list.

If you want to keep just a single shared family calendar, Cozi is a great option. Like Google Calendar, it lets you share your calendar with a spouse or multiple family members. The calendar app is slightly less user-friendly than Google’s — but only slightly. It does include the additional feature of a meal planner, which is great for busy parents. Plus, Cozi lets you keep categorized shopping and to-do lists, making it a good all-around organization app.

4. Pepperplate

This meal-planning app can take some time to set up because you’ll need to build or import your own recipes. But you can import recipes from a web link, making it an easy option for organizing all those Pinterest recipes you’ve been meaning to try. Once you get your recipes into your recipe box, you can tell the app which recipes you’re shopping for this week. Then, it’ll automatically generate a shopping list to use at the grocery store.

As far as meal-planning apps go, this one has great reviews. It doesn’t do the planning for you, but it’s a good option if you already have a go-to bank of recipes you use on busy weeknights.

5. Asana

This free to-do app is great for busy parents who want to track both work and home tasks. As with many of the apps featured here, you can share this one with a spouse or older kids. Asana lets you assign tasks by person and give tasks a due date. You can also organize tasks by category or project, making it easy to work on the most important projects first.

One of Asana’s biggest strengths is ease-of-use in a mobile format, though you can also access it by desktop. Plus, it allows you to sort your to-do list in a variety of ways, from tasks by due date to tasks by assignee to tasks by project.

6. Chore Monster


Want to get your kids doing more chores this school year? Try Chore Monster. This easy-to-use app lets you as the parent assign and create point values for various chores. You can have certain chores your kids must do, and certain chores they can choose to do. When the child completes the chore, you check it off, and they earn points.

What do they do with all those points? It’s up to you! Add rewards that kids can purchase with their points. Rewards could be physical or monetary, or you could just give kids extra screen time. The cool thing is that you can assign some rewards with a low-point value, so kids can pick them up often. But you can also help kids grasp the idea of saving by giving them a few high-point-value options, like a big weekend camping trip or an expensive new toy.

7. Evernote


This app has been around a while, and it’s a classic. Many moms swear by it, and it does have a bunch of functions to try. You might use it for keeping track of online articles you want to read while waiting in the school pickup line. Or you can use it to get rid of all that paper-based clutter kids bring home from school.

With Evernote, you can store scans or photos of paper items, so you can easily upload the school calendar and menu to an online format. You could also use Evernote to store scans of special projects or papers your kids bring home, so that you’ll hang on to them without having to find a place for thousands of pieces of paper every single school week.

Image: Erik Khalitov

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13 Things Grocery Stores Will Do for You for Free

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Your grocery store has a lot more to offer than just groceries and household necessities, and if you aren’t taking advantage of these offerings, you could be spending more money than you need to.

Fortunately, we’re here to help you find those cost savings so you can put that money to better use by adding it to your retirement fund, taking that vacation you so desperately need, paying off your credit card debts, or any one of dozens of other things you could better spend it on. (You can see how much your current debts will cost you over your lifetime with this calculator and how they may be affecting your credit by viewing two of your credit scores, updated each month, for free on Credit.com.)

Here are 13 things you might not know most grocery stores will give to you for free.

1. Sharpen Your Knives

Did you know the butcher at your local grocery store will very likely sharpen your knife for you? For free? It’s true. All you have to do is ask. It’s best to do this early in the morning right after the store opens and the meat counter isn’t terribly busy. You can just drop off your knives, do your shopping and pick the knives up on your way out.

Pro tip: Buy some inexpensive plastic knife sheaths to protect your blade edges and yourself during transport.

2. Provide Wi-Fi

A lot of grocery stores these days have free Wi-Fi available, particularly those with cafés, coffee bars or beer and wine service. So, if you’re going to be checking online recipes or comparing prices on your phone while shopping, reduce your data usage by asking for a password (if needed) and connecting to the Wi-Fi.

3. Trim Your Meat

Back to the meat counter we go. If you want that beautiful chuck roast cut into pieces for a stew, you’d like that rack of lamb Frenched, or you want that whole chicken quartered, the butchers are happy to do it for you, though it might take a bit of time (and be sure to check out these butcher secrets for saving money on meat).

4. Chill Your Wine

A lot of higher-end grocery store wine sections now have rapid chillers that can get your bottle of bubbly or rosé chilled to perfection in about 10 minutes. Just make your selection, drop it in the chiller, pick up any other items you’re in need of and bam. Your wine is cold and ready to take to your party, on a picnic or wherever your day takes you.

5. Provide Boxes

If you’re moving and you’ve priced boxes at your nearest packing and moving store, you know those cardboard cubes add up quickly. Check with your store for when they receive shipments of products like toilet paper, paper towels, baby diapers, cereal and other dry goods and ask them to hold some of the boxes for you.

6. Clean Your Fish

If you like buying whole fish but hate scales flying around your kitchen during the cleaning process, ask the grocery store fish monger to hook you up (Get it? Hook? OK, I’ll stop). They’ll even filet the fish for you if that’s your preference, and freshly cut filets are always better than those sitting in the cold case.

7. Provide Doggy Poop Bags

So, this isn’t really a free item or service provided by the store, but if you keep your produce bags after you’ve unloaded your fresh vegetables, you can use those to pick up your dog’s daily business instead of paying for fancy dog-branded bags. Of course, the produce bags don’t decompose the way most of the fancy poop bags do, but at least you’re giving them a second life before tossing them.

8. Arrange Flowers

If your favorite grocer has a flower counter, they also likely have a florist on staff who can prepare arrangements for you. So instead of just grabbing a bunch of flowers, next time you can have the florist arrange a lovely bouquet for you.

9. Provide Free Samples

Ah, weekends at the grocery store. In some places, it’s a veritable buffet as you comb the aisles for provisions. It’s a great opportunity to try new products and also save money, because there’s no way you’re needing lunch after this.

10. Ice Your Cold Items

If you’re buying a lot of cold and refrigerated items, your store might provide ice to keep your purchases from getting too warm, particularly in the summer months. More stores are making this service available, so it could be worth your while to check.

11. Provide Entertainment

In their ongoing effort to improve profit margins, grocery stores, especially higher-end chains, are doing everything everything they can to keep customers in stores longer so they can spend more money. Whole Foods, for example, serves beer, wine and even food in some select stores (not for free) and even offer free live music performances in some locations.

12. Deliver Groceries

Competition has grown fierce in the grocery sector, with more and more people ordering grocery items online or having them delivered through companies like Burpee and Fresh Direct. It’s no wonder more grocery stores are offering delivery, sometimes even for free. Check with your local grocer to see what options they might offer.

13. Special Order Products

Not seeing the item you want? A lot of grocery stores will special order a product for you if their vendors carry it. And if it’s something you plan to buy on a regular basis, they might even consider stocking it as a standard item. It never hurts to ask.

More Money-Saving Reads:

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