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130+ Ways to Save on Food

Saving On Grocery Food

Food is usually the biggest part of your household budget. Therefore spending less on food is the biggest change you can make if you are living on a tight budget. Below is a comprehensive list of ways you can consume and buy food on a budget:

General Food Saving Tips

  1. Set a dollar amount on how much you want to spend on groceries per week. That way, you will be forced to be smart about spending your food budget.
  2. This may be obvious, but if you can, lessen your food consumption. Eat less than you usually do without sacrificing your health. This may be hard at first, but when you do it gradually, your body become used to it.
  3. Don’t eat out. Enjoy the leftover food from last night. Or better yet, learn to cook. It would be hard at first, but when you think that you are saving at least $5.00 a day or $25 a week, it will be worth it.
  4. Avoid convenience stores. They are more expensive. Also, you can usually buy food items cheaper at a discount store than buy it with a coupon at a big supermarket.
  5. Save and make use of all leftovers. Start collecting leftover recipes, and plan for using them.
  6. Invest in a new or a good used freezer, if you don’t have one. That way you can take advantage of buying freezable items in large quantity when they are on sale.
  7. When cooking at home, cook large batches and divide them. Freeze meal-sized portions, and schedule when you will be consuming them. You can apply this to stir fries and stews.
  8. Freeze things the moment you realize you’re not going to cook them in time. For example, if you made great purchases at a farmer’s market or if you already cooked food but got a last-minute dinner invitation, freeze the food that will be unconsumed.
  9. Buy staples (milk, eggs, pasta, bread, cereal, rice, vegetables, fish, meat, beans) that can be prepared in a variety of ways.
  10. Invest in a good and inexpensive cookbook.
  11. Get a crock pot. It is one of the best ways of reducing cooking costs in a busy family. If you are busy and do not have much time to cook, you can just dump in your ingredients before work, put it on simmer, and dinner is done when you get home. There are countless recipes out there for all variety of foods, and every time you cook this way, you’re saving money as compared to eating out.

  12. Trade money-saving recipes with friends, neighbors and relatives.
  13. Look for money-saving recipes online. Also, google “low cost recipes home-cooking from scratch”.
  14. Since meat, poultry and fish are more expensive; consider using them as condiments to soups, salads, stir-fried vegetables, pastas and casseroles.
  15. When the price of meat and egg rises, go vegetarian once or twice a week.
  16. For meals without meat, use dried beans, eggs or peanut butter for protein in main dishes.
  17. Choose fruits and vegetables that are in season, and adjust your menu to take advantage of what is fresh and cheap. When they are out of season, they are more costly and lack flavor.
  18. Look over all fresh fruits and vegetables If you are paying full price, make sure all perishable foods are in top shape
  19. Examine bags of potatoes, onions, and fruits. Throw out bad ones. Store potatoes and onions in a cool, dry place. Store fruits and other vegetables in the refrigerator
  20. Instead of buying canned fruits and vegetables in large pieces, buy these foods canned in smaller pieces. For example, pineapple chunks and diced tomatoes usually cost less than pineapple rings and whole tomatoes.
  21. Can or freeze fruits and vegetables in the summer when they are plentiful. Use them in the winter.
  22. Stock up on healthy food such as in-season fruits and vegetables, raisins, and popcorn for snacks. Avoid junk food.
  23. Grow some of your herbs, spices, fruit and vegetables. Use window-sill flower pots.
  24. Make foods from scratch. It can be cheaper and healthier than items from the store. Some foods you can make from scratch include soups, yogurt, bread, spaghetti sauce, salsa, guacamole, cole slaw, jams, jellies and many kinds of deserts. Go to the internet and search for how to make these. YouTube is a good visual how-to source.
  25. Know the regular prices of items you usually buy. This will enable you to spot bargains faster.
  26. Make a cheat sheet so you will know what you usually pay for an item you use a lot.
  27. Go through kitchen cabinets regularly to make sure canned and packaged foods are used before expiration dates.
  28. Use nutritious, low-cost instant dry milk for drinking. Thoroughly chill milk for better taste
  29. For cooking, use dry milk instead of the more expensive regular milk. Store the box of powdered milk in a large plastic bag in the freezer. Keep a measuring cup inside the bag to easily determine how much you are getting.
  30. Mix an equal part of instant dry milk with water based on directions with equal amount of regular milk to save on milk cost.
  31. For regular drinking, drink water instead of milk, soda or juice. Any nutritional value of these beverages can be found cheaper elsewhere.
  32. Do not leave food in the oven overnight. Cooked foods, such as meats could make you very sick when left at room temperature for more than a few hours.
  33. Bake more than one item while the oven is hot. You can cook the main dish, dessert, vegetables, quick breads, or other foods at the same time if they are to be cooked at the same temperature.
  34. Make your own mixes for cookies, pancakes, and other prepared foods. Ready to cook mixes sometimes cost a lot more than homemade mixes.
  35. Buy day-old bread from the quick sale table or, if available, a bakery outlet. Toast or freeze to make it last longer.
  36. Bread becomes stale more quickly in the refrigerator. Store it at room temperature or in the freezer.
  37. Save bread ends and crusts. Toast them when baking something else and then crush to make bread crumbs. Store them in your freezer.
  38. Brown bag. Take your lunch to work. For sandwich lunch, try homemade egg salad, tuna salad, grilled cheese and grilled chicken.
  39. Avoid vending machines. Pack similar items at home in small bags, and bring drinks bought by the case.
  40. Instead of dining out, take turns hosting dinner parties with friends.
  41. Entertain with potlucks or inexpensive buffets, such as lasagna and salads.
  42. In fast foods, do not upgrade or supersize your order. You are just supersizing your bill and your waistline.
  43. Eliminate fancy, fattening and expensive desserts
  44. Serve a balanced diet and you won’t have to spend on vitamins.
  45. Before food shopping, look in your fridge for ingredients that are about to end its natural lives and make curries, soups, stews and other meals out of them.

  46. Food Buying Tips

  47. Plan your meals and make a grocery list based on your plan. Among other benefits, it prevents you from going back to the grocery for forgotten items.
  48. Before going to the grocery, go through the newspaper to see what is on sale. Use coupons, read flyers or be aware of the specials and bargains. Go to your grocery’s website, and see what is available. Then you can plan meals around what’s on sale.
  49. Check kitchen cabinets, freezer and refrigerator when making your grocery list. Avoid making duplicate purchases without realizing it, especially stuff that you will use up for a long time.
  50. Use manufacturer’s coupon only on products you normally buy. Do not buy food just because it is on sale or cheap. If you can shave off cents from the price of something you already use, go for it.
  51. In the store, use point-of-purchase coupons if the food item fits into your meal plan
  52. See if your printable coupon can be printed and used again until it expires.
  53. When you make a grocery list, STICK TO IT.
  54. The ONLY time to go off the list is when you get a really good buy such as store sales and double coupon offers.
  55. Bring only the cash you have budgeted for to the grocery. That way, you will not be tempted to spend more.
  56. Bring a calculator and add as you shop. It is also useful in figuring out unit prices when they are not posted.
  57. Shop early when the store is not crowded. Going through the store faster makes you spend less.
  58. Shop when you are not in a hurry. That way, you have time to compare the price of similar foods and choose the cheapest. Also, you will be more likely to take advantage of promotions and will not be missing discounts.
  59. Do not bring your kids when you are doing your grocery. They often make you buy “unwanted items”.
  60. When going to the grocery, make sure you are not hungry. Hunger psychologically makes you buy more food. When you shop hungry, everything looks delicious. Have a small snack before shopping.
  61. Avoid going down every aisle when you shop to avoid the temptation of buying non-planned items.
  62. Avoid buying sample foods. If the food is not on your list, think twice before buying it. You can consider it for a future list when you can use the food in your menus.
  63. Avoid buying single servings of food such as snack crackers, vegetable juice and ice cream.
  64. Don’t go to the grocery too often, ideally not more than once a week. The more you go, the more you tend to pick up items you might have done very well without. Or if you have to go again, make sure you have a list and stick to it.
  65. Spend less on groceries by shopping on weeks you don’t get paid.
  66. Buy only food items in the grocery. For other items, think twice before buying as they may be cheaper in discount stores.
  67. Buy cheaper “store” or “house” brands when the quality or taste suits your needs.
  68. Compare prices of foods in various forms – fresh, frozen, canned, or dried. Buy the least expensive.
  69. Compare the unit price of food items in different containers. For example, compare the price per pound or price per liter. Sometimes, the largest container is not the cheapest.
  70. Avoid buying foods packaged together such as cheese and crackers, meat and cheese trays. They are usually more expensive than if you buy them separately.
  71. Look at all the shelves in the grocery store. Grocers usually put items they want to sell on shelves that are at an eye level since they are easy to grab and toss in the cart.
  72. Check “sell by” and “use by” dates to make sure that you are buying fresh food.
  73. Skip sliced veggies and precut fruit, cheese and sandwich meat. Choose unpackaged produce and unsliced products instead. Slicing and dicing them may take time, but you will save money.
  74. Shop for cold items last such as frozen meats, dairy products, and vegetables.
  75. Check the clearance section of the grocery store for items such as soap, cereal, and household products. These items may be piled in shopping carts throughout the store. Only buy if you know it is a good deal. Do not buy cans with dents
  76. Before checking out, take a second look at the content of your shopping cart and weed out items you do not need.
  77. Ignore the checkout display. Tempted to buy the magazine? Maybe you can find it in the library. You want that candy bar? You should have eaten a snack before shopping.
  78. Try to get the cold foods packed together in a bag when checking out. When they are together, they are easy to spot when you get home, and you can get them to the freezer faster.
  79. Make sure that all of your purchases are rung up correctly. Double check your receipt.
  80. So that you won’t forget, present your coupons to the cashier or place them on the conveyor belt before you unload your groceries from the cart. Make sure that all your coupons are scanned.
  81. Use itemized food receipts so you can keep track of your food costs.
  82. Lessen the time foods are in the car. Keep perishables out of direct sunlight or out of the hot trunk.
  83. Check out dollar stores. You can buy some food such as canned fruits and snack crackers cheaper there.
  84. Find stores with food sales during special times such as “Friday and Saturday Blow-out sale” or “Seniors Day”.
  85. Buy “sale” items and stack up (again should be cheaper by 5-10%). For this, you need a big pantry or freezer.
  86. When buying “sale” items, make sure you consume it normally. Do not consume double the amount of what you normally do just because you bought the item on sale. It will turn out that you spent more money.
  87. Compare prices of items in different stores, and buy each item where it’s cheaper. Remember though to consider the transportation cost. Shopping in many stores may not be worth the extra time and gasoline cost.
  88. Do not be afraid to haggle and ask for price reductions at farmers market near closing
  89. Look for damaged merchandise and ask for price reductions on dented cans, crushed cartons, outdated bakery goods, bruised produce, etc.

  90. Food Bulk Buying Tips

  91. Buy in bulk foods that can be used in many ways such as rice, potatoes, flour, beans, tomato products, canned veggies, pasta, tuna, oatmeal, oil, etc.
  92. Buy in bulk if the cost per piece decreases significantly (like 5-10% cheaper).
  93. Buy your favorite foods in the largest size containers available, but make sure you have storage space for these.
  94. Avoid buying large amount of foods that will go bad quickly. Spoiled food is a waste of money.
  95. When buying in bulk, consider splitting the food and cost with a friend. You will both save money.
  96. When buying food in bulk or with deep discount, buy as much as you need as long as the food does not go bad when stocked.
  97. Buy powdered juice or concentrates in bulk, and then prepare it with water to make it a drink, instead of buying juice.
  98. Get coffee from the office, if available. This will save you from $1 to $2 a day. Otherwise, make your own coffee and bring it in a flask with you.
  99. Don’t buy bottled water. If you are very particular about the water you drink, just buy a water filter and use filtered tap water.
  100. How to Save on Meat

  101. Watch ads and stock up on genuine meat bargains. Keep your freezer full.
  102. For freshest meats, shop early on days when stores are busy – generally mid to end of week. Avoid mornings after long weekends.
  103. Shop early to see the marked down meats which are snapped early by other buyers. Cook the meat immediately and eat it the same day, or freeze it for later use.
  104. Shop for meats carefully. Bones and fat on meat cost a lot of money and it is hard to compare prices of meats with bones and extra fat.
  105. Buy meats in large “family packs” whenever possible. Divide and freeze for specific uses.
  106. Get acquainted with your grocery’s meat cutter. He can alert you to unadvertised specials and give you good cooking and saving tips.
  107. Avoid expensive canned and frozen “convenience” meats.
  108. Familiarize yourself with cheaper meat cuts.
  109. Well trimmed meat weighs less and costs less. Shop around and find the markets that do the best trimming job.
  110. Slice roasts and ham thin. Two thin slices look like more on the plate than one thick one.
  111. Buy large cut of meat (chuck and pork roasts, thick steaks and ham) when on sale and cut it up for a variety of uses.
  112. Substitute small bone chuck steak for sirloin or top round. Sprinkle with meat tenderizer before broiling or barbecuing.
  113. Marinate, tenderize or braise less tender cuts of meat before cooking.
  114. Stretch hamburger meat by adding bread crumbs, oatmeal, chopped onion, egg and seasonings. Shape into patties and grill.
  115. You need less ground meat mixture per serving if you use it to stuff green peppers, tomatoes, cabbage leaves and squashes.
  116. To avoid wasting hamburger, freeze as patties instead of as chunk.
  117. Stretch meat loaf and other ground beef dishes with mixed vegetables, mashed white or sweet potatoes, rice, or pasta.
  118. Stir-frying stretches meat. You can do this fast. To cut into thinnest slices, partially freeze the meat. Use round and flank steaks.
  119. To avoid excessive shrinkage and waste of meat, cook long-cooking meat over low or moderate heat or in 325 degree oven.
  120. To avoid “freezer burn” which dries out and toughens meat, rewrap all market-packaged meat in airtight freezer wrap.
  121. Use a meat thermometer to determine doneness. This prevents overcooking, shrinkage, and drying out of meat.
  122. Reduce amount of meat in such recipes as stews, casseroles, chili, and spaghetti sauce. Increase sauce and vegetables.
  123. Save tough rinds from ham, bacon or hocks. Tuck into potato, rice or noodle casseroles and bake for meaty flavor. Discard before serving.
  124. Buy boneless ham as it costs less, unless you want the bone for soup.
  125. Save and freeze all meat bones and trimmings. Use them for soups and stews.
  126. Buy luncheon meats unsliced in a chunk, slice them yourself and save.
  127. Buy bacon ends in economy sizes, divide and freeze. Cook, then combine with scrambled eggs. This will make them much cheaper than perfectly sliced bacon.
  128. Cook a whole chicken and use for more than one meal.
  129. Save all scraps of meat leftovers. Then grind or chop them & mix with salad dressing, relish, celery and onion for sandwich spreads and dips.
  130. Dice cooked meat leftovers, mix with barbecue sauce & serve in buns.
  131. Make gravy from drippings. Serve on biscuits, toast, pasta, rice, etc.
  132. Miscellaneous Food Buying Tips

  133. Use chunky style soups with potatoes and pasta in place of meat.
  134. Buy regular rice that is a less expensive than quick cooking or fancy rice blends.
  135. Make casseroles to use leftovers and to offer new foods to your family.
  136. Use leftover vegetables. Dice it and add it to cream cheese to make a great sandwich spread. You can also make tasty salads from leftover vegetables, fruit, and meat.
  137. Don’t spend for extra ice cubes. When you have frozen ice cubes, store them in a plastic bag and refill the ice tray.
  138. Buy a head of lettuce and wash it, instead of buying lettuce in a bag.
  139. If you are unable to eat ripe bananas right away, use them in muffins. You can also freeze the bananas to make a satisfying cold dessert.
  140. Choose home-popped popcorn for a snack. It is less expensive than microwave popcorn and much cheaper than chips. Use an electric skillet for popping. Store leftover popcorn in an airtight plastic bag
  141. Beat high coffee prices by drinking tea. Save half the cost.
  142. Get quick cooking oatmeal and grits because they are less expensive and almost as fast to prepare as the single serving instant cereals.
  143. Make extra pancakes. Wrap them separately, freeze and reheat in a toaster or microwave.

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