These tips to save money on food will show you how to get the most out of your shopping dollar while still enjoying great tasting meals.
As with so many money saving tips, it’s best to start small and be sensible. If your household loves meat, swapping tofu for meat because it is cheaper won’t save money in the long run if no one eats it!
Even trying a few of these tips will make a difference in your food bill. Every little bit helps.
It is Easy to Save Money on Food if You Follow these Household and Shopping Tips
Most people know that living on a budget means that some things have to be skimped on or left out all together. But this does not have to be the case with food. There are so many ways that you can save money on food, both at home and at the grocery store.
Here are 35 of my favorite tips to save money on food.
1. Save on salads
Bagged salad mixes are convenient but they are also quite expensive, and in my experience, don’t last anywhere nearly as long as a head of lettuce.
If you really want the convenience, rip up the lettuce head when you get it (it won’t last as long though). And for real savings, grow your own lettuce greens. They sprout so easily and if you cut them off at soil level, they will even grow back.
(See my article on cut and come again veggies.) Now, that is a real money saver!
2. Know your bird
Chicken breasts are often purchased because they are low in fat and many people want to save calories, but they are also one of the most expensive cuts of chicken. Swap them out for boneless skinless chicken thighs.
You will still save some calories because you are not eating the skin, but the flavor will be better and the food much juicier. Also chicken thighs can be cooked into casseroles and stews (another money saver) with more success than chicken breasts.
And roasting a whole bird can save money too, since you get both white and dark meat but don’t pay for boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
3. Planning Counts
Nothing is worse than going to the grocery store and coming back with some fruit and veggies when you already have some in the fridge or pantry. Take stock before you shop and make a list so that you will buy what you really do need.
I know for me, it means looking on the BACK of shelves in the fridge, since my side by fridge does a good job of playing hide and seek with me!
4. Eat more healthily
It is simply not true that nutritious food costs more. Yes, certain fruits and veggies, particularly those out of season can be pricy but it depends on what you substitute them for.
Low nutrition, high calorie snack type foods are very expensive and convenience foods are very pricey for what they deliver. Stick to nutritious food that is in season and omit the convenience and snack foods and your grocery bill will be lower.
I promise! You will also feel better and probably lose weight.
5. Invest in a club membership
I have a premium membership at BJ’s warehouse. It costs me $100. But it is tied to a credit card that gives me a $25 reduction on the cost of the membership (making it $75) and also gives me 5% in cash rewards.
I’ve only had the membership a few months and have earned $48 in rewards. At this rate, the membership will be free and the savings on meat, at my BJ’s club is significant. (I have a freezer and keep it full when meat is on sale)
The savings on many household items will pay for your membership even without credit card rewards.
6. Use Frozen Vegetables
Frozen veggies have been given a bad name in the past but it is unjustified. I don’t like canned vegetables because of additives but frozen veggies are very nutritious and good for you and considerably cheaper than the fresh alternatives especially those out of season.
7. Check out your local Farmer’s market
The farmer’s markets are wonderful places to save money on fresh vegetables and fruit, to say nothing of the freshness that you will get.
Plus, a trip to the Farmer’s market can be a fun day out for the whole family.
8. Shop in season
I can’t say enough about this tip. Buying fresh strawberries in the winter will set you back so much more than getting them in season (from the Farmer’s market ~ see tip 7!)
During the winter, apples and oranges are a much better buy. The same goes for vegetables. Think about what is growing now and make the best choices you can. And tip 6 pays off especially in the winter.
Go frozen for veggies then!
9. The spice Jar
Have you checked the price of a small jar of spices? They cost an arm and a leg! You have two options here. My best tip is to grow your own. Oregano, rosemary, thyme, parsley and basil and many common herbs are ridiculously easy to grow and many are perennials that will come back year after year.
Depending on your weather, they will even grow in the winter. I have thyme, parsley and rosemary growing on my deck all year long. And spices are easy to freeze and dry too.
If you can’t grow your own, then buying in bulk from stores that sell that way is a good way to go to save money.
10. Buy in Bulk
There are other things, besides spices, that can be bought in bulk. Flour, rolled oats, rice and other grains can be purchased in bulk either from warehouse type outlets or from places like Whole Foods and similar stores
If you will be sure to use these products, then buying in bulk makes sense. The same goes for meat when it is on sale. If you have a freezer, that is the time to buy.
It makes for one expensive shopping trip, but overall, you will save money.
11. Make your own bread products
Do you have left over bread that has gone stale? Don’t throw it out. Let it go completely stale and grate it for homemade breadcrumbs.
Or bake it and cut into croutons.
12. Get creative with left overs
Make extra rice and then use the left overs for stuffing peppers later in the week. If you have left over mashed potatoes, use them as a topping for a shepherd’s pie.
Bananas on sale, but they got too ripe before you use them, make banana “ice cream” or banana bread. Use left over bread to bulk up meatballs or make bread crumbs or croutons.
There are loads of ways to make sure that the left overs don’t just end up in the trash.
13. Save your scraps
Save all your left over vegetable scraps and combine with chicken carcasses to make home made soup or broth. Saves money and waste and tastes so much better than store bought!
14. Buy staples on sale
Some food preparation items, like oils, vinegars, nuts, etc can be pricey. But they keep fairly well. Buy them on sale. Nuts can be bought when fresh and are best kept in the freezer anyway.
15. Left overs or big batches of veggies
If you can’t eat all of the vegetables that you have on hand before they go bad, then cook and freeze them for another meal.
16. Don’t shop when you are hungry
You will be amazed at what comes home with you. I promise. Just don’t!
17. Brown bag lunches once in a while
Eating out for lunch every day can really add to the food bill. Brown bagging it, even one day a week, will save you money. And, truth be told, my husband prefers a lunch that I make for him.
18. Let’s talk coupons
Sure, coupons save you money, but not if they are things you normally would not buy anyway. That is spending more, not less. Use coupons for those foods that you buy all the time.
My local Kroger tailors the coupons that I receive from them with my Kroger card to the things I buy. At least 10 out of every 12 coupons I receive from them are things I buy weekly.
Be sure to sign up for your grocery store’s card if you have not done it already. You will get additional savings on many store brand items if you do.
19. Avoid costly convenience foods
Sure it is easy to plop some popcorn in the microwave, but the cost is outlandish compared to making your own, and you will also fore go the chemicals.
Cinnamon sugar from the store is expensive and is ridiculously easy to make at home at a fraction of the cost. Make your own oatmeal in a bowl. It takes just a few minutes more than pouring boiling water over a packet and is so much cheaper.
Find ways to make your own “convenience foods.”
20. Buy Beans
Canned beans are super cheap and a great source of vitamins and minerals. Dried beans are even cheaper.
Make a big batch and freeze some for meals later. Chili is a very tasty way to use beans, as are soups and many International dishes.
21. Make friends with ground beef
The recipe ideas for ground beef are endless. Kids love it. Italian food can’t do without it and it’s so much cheaper than other cuts of beef.
Most recipes can be adapted for it too. I have a ground beef stroganoff recipe that is every bit as good as my normal beef stroganoff recipe.
22. Plan meals around specials
Most grocery stores have fliers in the weekend papers that show what the specials will be. Do your meal planning when you see the specials to save money each week.
23. Think before you drink
Invest in a reusable water bottle or two. Fill it with water and keep it in the fridge. The investment will soon pay for itself. Limit consumption of costly soda and drink more water.
You body, skin and weight will thank you for it and you will save money too.
Vegetarian meals do not have to be bland and boring. And meat is expensive. Have a meatless Monday each week and see how much you will save over time.
25. Buy Store Brands
Be a label checker. Many, if not most store brands, have exactly the same ingredients as the more expensive named variety.
This goes for canned goods, convenience foods and even health and beauty products and vitamins. It pays to be a label checker.
26. Plant a Garden
I have a big veggie garden and I save a ton of money every year on vegetables. The longer your growing season, the more you will save.
Vegetables are so easy to grow and the cost of a packet of seeds is tiny compared to what you can grow from them.
Try it, you may become hooked like I am! And don’t stop at just veggies.
Many berries are also easy to grow and picking a batch is much better than paying $4.99 for a box of raspberries that don’t keep all that well anyway!
27. Ice cube trays are not just for ice cubes
If you have some left over wine, (wait…what is left over wine?) put it in ice cube trays to use to flavor sauces later. The same can be done with coconut milk (who uses the whole can?), buttermilk, and even gravy.
Freeze juices to add later to tonic water or plain water for a splash of taste as they melt. So much cheaper than flavored water and better for you too.
I made these grapefruit cubes when I bought a bag of grapefruit thinking they were oranges and flavored drinks with them.
28. Freeze Ginger
Keep your ginger in the freezer and grate it as you need it while frozen. It is easier to grate and keeps indefinitely. Left over lemons and other citrus fruits can be used for zest in the same way.
See other ideas for freezing foods you might not have thought of.
29. Label and date
There is no point in having a freezer that is full unless you are going to use the food quickly or unless you plan to date it. Nothing wastes money like a steak that has been left in the freezer too long and has freezer burn and can’t be used.
Don’t just date though. Be thoughtful of how you stock the freezer. Bring older foods to the front and place new arrivals behind. That way you will be eating the older food first quite naturally.
Some peel off labels and a sharpie pen in the kitchen makes labeling an easy to do task.
30. Stick to the grocery list
What is the point of planning and making a list if you plan to be tempted on each aisle of the store. Stick to the list. Your wallet will love you for it.
31. Inspect those shelf labels
It is not always the cheapest price that is the best value. Be sure to check out the price per ounce on the label to see which one really is the best deal.
32. Shop the bakery early in the day
That is when bakeries and the bakery department of your grocery store marks down the day old bread for great savings. The opposite is true for meats.
They will mark these down at the end of the day so look for meat bargains then.
33. Stock your pantry and refill
Some canned foods, such as beans, dried fruits, nuts, pasta and other items will keep almost indefinitely in the pantry. Keep it well stocked with foods your family loves for easy and inexpensive “throw together meals.”
And replace it. I have a white board in my kitchen and when I use the last of something I immediately put it on the list to replace when I shop that week.
You can use the pantry and your left overs to come up with some great meals at very little cost.
34. Measure your carbs
All dried pasta bulks up when cooked and many times the excess goes straight to the garbage (or on our hips). Get in the habit of measuring portions. You will be amazed at how little 2 ounces of dried pasta is.
Measuring saves money in the long run because of less waste.
35. Eat out less
I know we are all busy and eating out is something that is a party of our lifestyle, but if we even cut out one eat out meal a week, it can be a savings of $25-$30 that could go towards good, nutritious food.
Make eating out a special occasion, not a choice for a too busy lifestyle.
Do you have some other ideas for ways that you save money on food at your house. Please share them in the comments section below and I’ll add some of my favorites to this article with a shout out to you.
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