As usual with this time of year, my wife and I look over the totals for what we spent this year and what we saved. We compare the numbers to what we budgeted and how much we spent last year. We make the effort to make sure we account for any large variations, such as the budget for home repairs this year. This year’s number is much, much higher than last year’s but we did a lot of work on the house this year.
One area that continues to creep up is our food spending, or more specifically, our grocery budget . We’ve spent a few days thinking and strategizing at how we can keep our grocery budget in line for the new year. Below are the ways we came up with for saving money on food.
Saving Money On Food
Before I get into our plan, I need to explain how we currently shop. For the most part, we shop sales. We plan meals around what is on sale for the week. If it is ground turkey, we are having chicken tacos or the like. If it is pork, we might make pulled pork sandwiches. We do a lot right now to keep costs in line, but want to go one step further as food prices keep rising . Now, onto the plan.
Clean Out the Pantry
My guess is we do the same thing many others do. When we buy something for the pantry, it goes up front and the “old” stuff gets pushed back. This keeps happening to the point that I think we have a can of black beans from the 1800’s! Seriously though, there is a lot of food in our pantry we don’t eat. So our plan is to eat it.
We will go through our pantry and clear out anything we no longer plan on using and then start eating what is left. We will also do the same with the food in the freezer too, since this area is much like our pantry!
Read More: 8 Ways to Stop Wasting Food 
My wife likes to use herbs, especially basil. When I go to the store, I have 2 options: I can buy a larger plant of basil for $5 or buy a few leaves in a packet for $3. Either option is a waste of my money because of what we get out of it. So this coming spring, we are going to plant some herbs and grow our own. We’ve never done it before, but it can’t be that hard, right? We are able to keep plants in the house alive, and I can grow a packet of cat grass, so I think we will be OK when it comes to growing herbs.
Read more: 35 Tips to Save Money on Food 
Join a CSA
We have a small yard and the biggest part of it barely gets any sunshine. As a result, planting a garden is not in the cards for us at this time. Since produce is expensive, we are looking into joining a CSA. What is a CSA ? It stands for community supported agriculture and it allows city residents to buy fresh produce from local farmers.
When you join, you buy a share of the farmer’s vegetables and fruit. There are winter and summer CSA’s to join as each one has different fruits and vegetables. The more you spend, the more food you get. We are going to take things slowly this first year as we don’t want to buy a large share and then end up having too much food that goes to waste.
In our area, a full share costs roughly $800 and a half share (less food) costs $450. At first, we were thinking of passing because the amount of food we receive might be too much for us, even on the half share plan. But, many people split shares with others. We are great friends with our neighbors and are going to ask them if they would like to join in with us the next time we see them.
In the event they don’t want to join, we have another option to fall back on: our parents. Both of our parents have gardens and offer us tomatoes and lettuce all of the time, among other vegetables. We will be more open to taking the food when they offer it up.
Read More: Which Vegetables are in Season by Month 
Skip Whole Foods
While we are conscious of what we eat, we have decided that Whole Foods just doesn’t fit into our budget. We will still shop there occasionally, but it will no longer be our main grocery store. The other local grocery stores have started to add more and more organic foods and we feel we can find healthy food at these stores without the inflated prices.
In the end, we are excited for this time next year to see how our food budget looks. Our goal is to simply tame the ever rising prices of food to a manageable level so that we are not paying more and more each year. I’d love to hear what you do to keep your food budget in check and if you have any advice on our plan.
What do you think of the options I listed to save money on food?
More Ways to Trim Your Grocery Budget
- 11 Ways to Save Money on Groceries 
- Guide to Couponing 
- Gaming the Grocery System 
- What Am I Supposed to Buy at Costco? 
- Have You Tried Peapod Groceries? 
- Frugal Foodie: 6 Alternatives to Dining Out 
- New Walmart Price Match: What They Will and Won’t Match 
- Printable Grocery Coupons 
- 14 Ways to Save on Your Grocery Bill 
- Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America’s Cheapest Family (Book)