Do you know how to save money on food?
For many of us, food is one of our most significant budget categories, and it also is a pretty big necessity. It is not something you can easily cut out of your budget! However, you can save money on food and lower that bill just a bit.
In our current climate, saving money on food is more important than ever. We all know stories of families struggling to provide the necessities for their children in this economy, and even those with steady work can struggle to pay the bills each month.
Food is not an area that you should skimp on. It’s easy to scrimp when it comes time to buy new clothes or entertainment items, but feeding your family should never be seen as something you choose to do without. Still, no one wants to spend too much money at the grocery store. So what can you do? How can you save money on food?
More often than not, the solution is to get creative and purposeful with your spending. For example, if you’re organized, you can make your dollar go further and stretch it out over more meals. This way, rather than buying groceries once every few days or week, you might be able to make do with one grocery run 2-3 weeks at a time.
There are also ways to reduce the amount of money you spend by diversifying where you shop. For example, buying fresh produce at a farmer’s market can be cheaper than purchasing already prepared and pre-cut vegetables and fruits at the supermarket. This way, you’re supporting your local community while helping the environment by cutting down on bulk packaging and plastic waste.
Food shopping doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg if you use these tips. Here’s how to save money on food.
How To Save Money on Food: 15 Helpful Tips
Look at coupons before making any purchases. Of course, you don’t want items you wouldn’t usually buy just because they’re on sale. But looking through your circulars or coupons can help you reduce the upfront cost of groceries by as much as 50%.
If you know what you’re going to cook for dinner this week, chances are you won’t be tempted by fast food or takeout. Instead, get the whole family involved so everyone knows what is for dinner and can plan accordingly.
Meal planning doesn’t have to be a big production either; plenty of apps and resources are available these days that will help you plan out weekly menus, create shopping lists, and keep track of everything you need to get done.
Buy Big and Divide
Try not to purchase single servings of anything (such as pudding cups) if multiple people are in your household. Instead, find a larger size that will provide enough servings for everyone; divide it into reusable containers or zip-lock bags before putting it away in the refrigerator or freezer. Take this method one step further by carefully dividing up things like meat so everyone gets their fair share.
Avoid the Grocery Store
Sign up for delivery services like Peapod, Fresh Direct, and Amazon Pantry. Since they offer home delivery rather than pick-up, you won’t have to worry about any multiple trips to the grocery store each week; therefore, you’ll save gas and time along with your money. This also helps cut down on impulse buying, as there’s less chance you’ll be tempted by something on the spur of the moment.
Get Cheaper Meat
Buy larger cuts of meat and break them down yourself. This can save you bundles over purchasing pre-cut poultry or ground beef.
Plus, if you’re someone who enjoys cooking with fresh ingredients, this is always better than buying prepackaged food products that are not only more expensive but also loaded with preservatives and other chemicals that can be harmful to your health in large quantities. You can also get cheaper cuts from a butcher and use that for stocks, stews, and soups.
Buy on Sale
When expensive items are on sale, buy large amounts and freeze them properly to enjoy later. Make sure to divide the large items into more manageable serving sizes before freezing so you can use them easily.
This is especially important when buying meat (which is usually pretty pricey). Make sure to stock up when it is on sale. Then, you can freeze anything you won’t be using right away for another time.
Buy Generic Brands
Find the best deals at your local supermarket by purchasing store brands rather than their name-brand counterparts. In fact, in some cases, the generic versions are made at the same facilities by workers trained not to include certain ingredients to keep costs down.
Take advantage of your freezer. You don’t have to pay those sky-high prices at the grocery store if you make a big enough meal plan that will allow you to buy bulk meat and other items when they are on sale. Then separate the groceries into individual servings, label them properly, and freeze them away until needed.
Shop at different stores. Don’t always go to the same grocery store just because there’s a good sale on one particular item this week. Instead, look ahead and see if something else will have a better price later in the month or quarter just by being patient.
Buy Frozen Food
Buy frozen veggies instead of fresh or dried beans instead of canned if possible. They are usually cheaper per serving than their fresher counterparts, plus they’re generally just as healthy for you.
Buy Canned Items
Buy canned goods. It’s usually cheaper than fresh, and You can cook it in a variety of ways. Having these stored away can be good for when you don’t have time to cook or your budget for that week is tight. Canned items also go on sale fairly often, so you can stock up when you have some extra cash.
Shop Smart on Household Staples
Watch out for coupons and discounts when buying everyday household staples like paper towels or laundry detergent. But make sure to check whether or not their sale price is lower than what you usually pay, so it doesn’t turn out to be false savings in the long run.
Shop by Yourself
Leave the kids at home when shopping. You’ll be amazed at how much money you can save by not buying those unnecessary treats and snacks. This way you can also be in a better frame of mind to calculate prices and make good shopping choices – it is much more challenging when you are hurried or stressed!
Cook at Home
This one is a bummer but learn to cook from scratch. This way, you’ll not only save money on groceries, but you won’t need processed food for convenience anymore either. Also, you can save a lot of money on food by not getting takeout!
Buy In Bulk
Buy in bulk whenever possible, but only when the unit cost is cheaper per pound than smaller amounts. If it’s not, you’ll end up spending more money overall without getting much extra food to show for it.
Simply by following these tips, you can ensure that your family has enough to eat even if times are tough and money is tight. It may require a little bit of extra effort on your part at first, but soon you will find yourself shopping less and saving more without sacrificing any of the good things in life.
And that’s how to save money on food. What tips will you try?
Robyn is a millennial mom with a passion for personal finance. She has her MBA and has been studying Personal Finance on her own for as long as she can remember.
She has always been “into” personal finance but got inspired to start her blog after a period of extended unemployment. She says that experience really changed the way she viewed her relationship with money and the importance of accessible personal finance education. Read more at A Dime Saved.