We all want to have nourishing food on the table, but this isn’t always the easiest thing to do on a budget. There are several ways to save money on food everyday if you simply plan your grocery shopping better.
According to a writeup in USA Today which was published in December of 2017, the average American spends $4,049 a year on groceries and an additional $3,154 eating out for a total of $7,203 a year.
Minimize the Cost of Eating Out
There are several ways to save money eating out including going out for lunch instead of dinner, taking advantage of early bird specials and plate splitting.
Compare restaurants and use sites like Groupon to find special deals on meals.
When you are eating out:
- opt for appetizers instead of a full meal
- take leftovers home to have for lunch the next day
- check out the daily specials
All of these methods can help you lower the cost of eating out.
Check Prices Everywhere
It’s common to check out weekly sales flyers for the stores we go to all the time. Instead of limiting yourself, check flyers for all the stores in your area.
You can create your weekly or monthly menu looking at the sales flyers and save a lot of money if you spend a bit of extra time shopping for sales.
Create a Weekly or Monthly Menu
While this may seem hard at first, if you get into the habit of doing this you can save a lot of money over time.
The best option is to create a weekly menu based on what you have on hand, or what is on sale at your local grocery stores.
Make a Grocery List
Never shop without a list!
One of the best ways to save money on food is to make sure you are not buying things you didn’t plan to buy before you walked into the store.
Become a Master of Couponing
Coupons are your friend. Whether you are using store-issued coupons, finding manufacturer’s coupons, or using rebates, you can save money on food by making sure you take advantage of every possible discount.
Make sure if you are buying items on sale you make use of coupons. You can find a broad range of coupons on various websites.
Check your shopping list and your sales flyers and find printable coupons to help lower the cost of food.
Cash Back Rewards
There are two ways to get cash back on your groceries.
First, if you have a credit card that offers you a cash rebate, use it for food shopping. Make sure you pay the bill in full. In fact, when you return from the store, go online and pay the amount you spent immediately.
The other option is to use online shopping sites which offer cash back on purchases. Some of the more popular ones are Jet.com and Boxed (an Amazon company).
Be careful you are not paying higher prices for the items you are purchasing — you could be getting less for your money.
Shop on a Full Stomach
It’s easy to get carried away with purchases if you’re hungry when you start shopping.
You’ll make smarter choices, and you’re more likely to stick to your list if you’re not tempted by everything you see because you’re hungry when you walk in.
Bulk Up With Beans
You can skip a meat dish by learning how to substitute dry beans. Depending on the bean, they are rich in protein, are filling, and are very versatile. Beans can be used to create appetizers, main meals, and even a dessert!
You can find countless bean recipes online. Since you can use beans as a substitute for meats, you could save a lot of money on food using beans.
Dry beans cost very little per serving, have a high nutrition value, and can be cooked ahead of time. Using your crockpot, you can create soups, casseroles, and even prepare breakfast while you sleep!
Cook Too Much For Dinner
If you prepare extra food at dinner time you can save money on food. You can package the extras for lunch, get another meal out of the leftovers, or you can combine leftovers and make a casserole, soup, or potluck dinner.
Remember, even small amounts of leftovers can be frozen and eaten later.
There is no point in wasting food!
Save bones to make soup stock, put small amounts of leftover vegetables into a plastic container in the freezer and use them to add to a soup later, save leftover meat to flavor a soup, chopped up on a salad, or used in a casserole.
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Use Frozen Vegetables
Frozen vegetables get a bad rap because they’re frozen. The fact is that a frozen vegetable generally is as nutritious as a fresh one. There’s an added benefit too, you don’t have to wait for a vegetable to be in season.
Frozen vegetables keep longer than fresh, meaning less trips to the store which generally translates into less money spent on food.
Skip the Designer Coffee and Teas
Coffee and tea lovers often fall into the habit of buying top shelf brands. Experiment a bit with some of the less costly options of coffee and tea.
Consider buying coffee beans which are usually less expensive than ground coffee. Check your local discount stores and dollar stores where you can often find flavored coffee and tea for far less money than you would spend at the grocery store.
For those who have children who love hot chocolate, consider making hot cocoa mix from scratch instead of buying prepacked brands. You’ll save money and time since you can make it in large quantities if you store it in an airtight container.
Buy Generic Brands
While it may be tempting to head directly for your favorite “brand” of a specific product, shop around for generics. This is especially true for staples like flour, sugar and cereal but also applies to other products like rice, soups, and crackers.
Before you automatically reach for a generic, make sure you check the ingredients and compare the price per pound (or ounce) and make sure you’re really getting a better deal. In some cases, generics may not be as inexpensive as a brand name, especially if you have cents-0ff coupons.
Fewer Pre-Packaged Foods
It’s tempting to buy prepacked foods but it’s also more expensive.
These items may take more time to make from scratch but if you devote one day a month to doing some of your own cooking, you could save a lot of money over the course of a year. There are some great websites devoted to making your own salsa, tortillas, and desserts from scratch.
Purchase Cheaper Cuts of Meat
Instead of heading for the higher-priced cuts of beef, learn how to tenderize cheaper cuts of beef at home. When purchasing any kind of meat, watch for sales, manager’s specials, and family packs.
When purchasing chicken, look for family pack specials, buy chickens with bone-in so you can use the carcass to create broths later, and consider buying hole chickens rather than parts since they are often less expensive.
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Stock Up During Sales
Take advantage of sales whenever possible if items are non-perishable or have a long shelf life.
Stocking up on items you are going to use is smart and can save money on food.
Canned meats and fish, vegetables, rice and other shelf-stable items often go on sale on a seasonal basis so watch for them.
Make sure you do not buy items you are not familiar with during stock-up sales, it could be a waste of money.
Sales on items that store well like beans, rice, and sugar can save you a lot of money, particularly if you can find coupons to save even more money.
Buy in Bulk
There are some food items which are sold in bulk which can be a great deal. For example, if you purchase a 25-pound bag of rice on sale, it’s probably going to cost you less per ounce than a 20-ounce box will cost.
Spices which can make simple foods taste great can often be purchased in large quantities either from a bulk bin or in a large cannister. Take advantage of any family packs after making sure the price per serving is less than smaller packages.
Package Your Own Treats
Instead of purchasing individual snack packs for lunches, consider making them yourself.
There are even recipes for making your own healthy granola mix which can be packaged in small snack bags or plastic containers.
You can make your own jerky, cookies, chips, and more by finding simple recipes which will help you save money on food. Making your own treats can result in your saving hundreds of dollars a year, particularly if you buy the ingredients in bulk.
Buy Non–Food Items at Dollar Stores
Non-food items can cost you hundreds of dollars a month. However, if you shop smart, you can save money on some items at the dollar store. Plastic containers for storing leftovers are often less expensive at the dollar store.
There are some other items you should consider purchasing at a dollar store including:
- Bath soaps — if you’re not fussy about the brand of bath soap you are using, consider checking your local dollar store or discount store. Before you walk in, make sure you know how much you would pay at the grocery store so you’re getting a good deal.
- Laundry products — detergent, dryer sheets and bleach are often less expensive at the dollar store than they are at the grocery store. In many cases, you can purchase brand name products at a fraction of the cost. Typically, you can also use manufacturer’s coupons so make sure you take them with you!
- Cleaning products — bathroom cleaner, dish washing detergent, and floor cleaning products are nearly always less expensive at the dollar store. You may also be able to find mops and brooms at heavily discounted prices if you need to replace them.
- Paper goods — before purchasing items like toilet paper, paper towels or tissues make sure you compare package sizes! In some instances, what looks like a great deal could be misleading. Being well-informed consumer matters when you’re going to the dollar store searching for deals.
- Wraps and bags — you can nearly always save money on foil, plastic wrap, storage bags and garbage bags when you buy them at the dollar store. Watch the flyers they send out for deals as well because oftentimes, there are special offers (buy one get one for example) on these items.
Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment
You can save money on food by experimenting with baking, cooking from scratch, and growing your own vegetables, fruit and herbs. Get creative with recipes and use spices liberally (unless you’re cooking in a crock pot!).
It can be tempting to run to the store and purchase a fully-roasted chicken, a frozen pot pie or other convenience food because you don’t have time to cook.
If you can’t make time to cook ahead, take some time to learn what foods cook well in a crock pot, you can toss everything into the crock pot before leaving for work in the morning and dinner will be ready when you come home.
When you are on a budget, you want to do everything possible to save money.
Finding easy ways to save money should start with learning how to save money on food. Make sure you’re carefully tracking your spending and taking the time to take advantage of sales whenever possible.
You might be surprised at how much money you can save if you simply plan ahead.
Do you have any tips on how to save money on food? Let us know in the comments!
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