Saving in the Big City – Guest Post

I’m honored to have Jean Chatzky share a few tips on saving $$$ on food and groceries in the big (and expensive) city!

Living in a big city can get expensive. There’s a lot to pay for-rent, groceries, transportation…and then there’s groceries. Here are some tips for cutting back on grocery expenses while living on a big-city budget:

1. Different markets: One of the perks of living in a big city is that you have access to food merchants other than your run-of-the-mill grocery stores. Farmer’s markets are great places to get fresh produce year round. One of New York’s most popular farmer’s markets, the Union Square Farmer’s Market is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, year round. Any big city’s cultural diversity can work to your advantage too. Don’t be afraid to check out ethnic markets, such as Asian or Italian. The unique tastes, and prices of some ingredients, might surprise you.

2. Get them delivered: Sometimes, grocery shopping in a big city can be quite the chore-especially if you need to do a major shopping trip and don’t have your own car. Eliminate some of the hassle by having your groceries delivered right to your residence. Grocery delivery services such as Peapod and Safeway deliver to most major cities. Also, not being in the store means you don’t make the impulse purchases that some surveys have shown account for 2/3 of our spending. The weeks I order my groceries online I find I spend substantially less!

3. Couponing: Did you know that 80 percent of grocery coupons still do come from the Sunday paper? Pick up the newspaper on Sunday morning in any big city, and you’ll find the equivalent of hundreds of dollars in savings.

4. Diners Deck: I might be breaking the $5 dinner rules here…but when you’re simply just not in the mood to cook, there are things you can do to mitigate the cost of a night out. One of my favorite money savers is City Shuffle’s Diner’s Deck, which retails for $30. It’s basically a deck of 52 cards. Each card in the deck describes a special restaurant and also doubles as a $10 gift certificate. You can spend each card like a $10 bill, as long as your tab is at least $30. Go to three restaurants and you’ve covered the cost of the deck.

Breakfast for dinner is always a favorite (not to mention a $5 meal) at my house!

Mapled French Toast

12 slices bread
6 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
2 – 4 bananas (depending on size)
1 lb bacon
Maple syrup for dipping and on top

Whip up the eggs with a fork, add the milk, maple syrup and cinnamon. Heat a griddle, grease with a little butter. Soak the bread in the egg mixture, then grill on the griddle til done. Keep warm in oven. Simultaneously cook the bacon. Slice the bananas. Serve the French toast with bananas on top and bacon on the side. Pour maple syrup on to taste. (Bacon dipped in maple syrup is EXCELLENT!)

Jean Chatzky is financial editor of NBC’s “Today” show, a contributing editor at More magazine and a contributor to “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” She’s the author of six books, including, “The Difference: How Anyone Can Prosper in Even the Toughest Times.” Check out her blog at


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