35 Tips to Save Money on Food
Posted by Kristen on October 8, 2013
If you’re anything like me, you spend a lot of money on food each month. While food can be costly, the good thing about the cost is that it can be flexible. By making a few simple changes here and there, you can really add up the savings from the money you spend on food. Here are some ways to save money on food.
Tips to Save Money on Food
- Make a meal plan. Base it on what you have at home and what’s on sale at the store.
- Use coupons. Clip coupons before heading to the store.
- Stop wasting food. Learn how to stop wasting food by storing it correctly, using leftovers, and more.
- Find alternatives to eating out. Explore these alternatives to going out to dinner to still enjoy food but save money in the process.
- Buy in season. When you are buying fruits and vegetables, buy what is in season.
- Stock up on sale. If there is a sale on something that you use often and that has a long shelf life, take advantage of the low price. For example, I use a lot of pasta, and dried pasta lasts for years. Whenever I see a sale, I stock up to have on hand.
- Don’t let food expire. Clearly mark the expiration dates on anything you buy so you are using it before it goes bad.
- Don’t overbuy things that expire quickly. While it could be a good idea to stock up on items you use very often or that have a long shelf life, the opposite could be true for those you do not. For example, if you stock up on chicken that is on sale, that is only going to be good a few days.
- Avoid individual portions. Skip purchasing those individually wrapped and packaged snacks, like individual portions of chips and cookies. Simply purchase the regular sized item, and package it yourself to save a great deal of money.
- Use a loyalty card. If your grocery store offers it, enroll in a loyalty rewards program.
- Stick to a budget while grocery shopping. While you’re shopping, add up what you are spending so you aren’t surprised at the check out line.
- Use your crockpot. You can turn inexpensive meats into tender, filling meals.
- Keep track of what you are spending on food. If you are going over your budget, you’ll need to get creative and use what you already have.
- Learn to cook your meals. If you don’t cook, you’re probably spending way too much on fast food, take out, and restaurants. Instead, learn to cook a few simple meals to save money. Borrow cook books from the library, watch videos on You Tube, watch cooking shows, and ask your friends and family members that know how to cook to share some of their simplest recipes.
- Buy in bulk. Buy food that you use often or that will not go bad quickly in bulk.
- Take an inventory. Before you head out to the grocery store, know what you have in your house so you are not double buying.
- Bring snacks with you. Keep a granola bar, nuts, or other non-messy, healthy snack with you while you are running errands, at work, or out and about to avoid impulse purchases at a fast food place or convenience store.
- Use generic brands. Opt for generic brands while grocery shopping.
- Compare prices. Compare prices of products, and be willing to abandon your brand loyalty. Also consider price matching.
- Compare weights. Whenever you are comparing a product, take a look at the weight. While one item may appear cheaper, you may be actually getting a better deal with the higher priced item since there is more there.
- Eliminate junk food. Eliminate or limit junk food like chips, candy, soda, or any other non-essentials that don’t really fill you up.
- Turn one meal into two. When you are dining out at a restaurant, cut your portion in half and ask to have it wrapped. Now this will give you lunch or dinner for tomorrow, increasing the value of that meal.
- Eat during happy hour. Take advantage of deals at local restaurants like coupons, happy hours, or other specials.
- Share a potluck. Instead of heading out to a restaurant with your friends, have a pot luck where everyone makes a dish and shares the recipe.
- Be flexible with your recipes. If a recipe calls for a certain ingredient, but you can use a similar one that is cheaper, go for it.
- Shop beyond the grocery store. Don’t only shop at the regular grocery store. Sometimes farmer’s markets and ethnic grocery stores can offer a cheaper price on items.
- Pack a lunch. Instead of paying for your lunch at work everyday, pack a lunch.
- Check for deals. Before you head out to a restaurant, check Groupon, Living Social, Yelp, Restaurant.com, and other deal websites to see if there is a deal there.
- Order one thing at a time. When you’re dining out, don’t over order. Instead, eat slowly. So many times you order an appetizer, entrée, dessert, and drinks. Instead, order one thing at a time so you can stop once you’re filled up.
- Eat local. While you’re traveling, ask the locals where they eat. Chances are they are going to be cheaper than the touristy places.
- Bring your drinks from home. When you are headed out, grab a bottle of water or take a thermos of coffee with you. This way, if you are thirsty or need a caffeine fix while you’re out, you’re already covered.
- Get a kitchen. If you are traveling for a longer time, consider staying at a place with a kitchen and fridge. This allows you to cook some of your meals to save money.
- Use your leftovers. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, about 30 million tons of food is wasted each year. Instead, try to get creative with your recipes. Visit FoodNetwork.com or Recipe.com to find recipes with your ingredients and leftovers you already have on hand.
- Skip the convenience food. Buy a block of cheddar instead of the already pre-shredded. Buy carrots you have to peel and chop instead of the little pre-diced ones. A bag of lettuce probably costs double what it would if you buy a head of lettuce and clean and chop it yourself.
- Grow your own garden. Growing your own vegetables can save you money. If you live in an apartment or don’t have time to tend to a garden, you can plant herbs, like basil and cilantro.
How do you save money on groceries, dining out, and all things food related? What are your favorite low cost ingredients to cook with?
More Tips to Save Money on Food
- Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express for 6% cash back on groceries.
- 11 Ways to Save Money on Groceries
- Guide to Couponing
- Can You Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half Shopping Only Once a Month?
- 6 Ways to Change the Impact of Food on your Budget
- Challenge: Can You Trim Your Grocery Budget By 15%?
- Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America’s Cheapest Family (Book)
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What a great list! You’ve covered everything. The two biggest for me are 1) meal planning based in what’s on sale and what’s already in my cupboard. And 2) not shopping when I’m hungry. That one is a budget and a diet breaker.