17 Tips for Spending Less on Groceries
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Many people find themselves living paycheck to paycheck, barely making ends meet. Sometimes it is difficult to stick to a budget. For most families, food is one of the most expensive line items in the budget, so let’s talk about ways to reduce that. These 17 tips for spending less on groceries will help you reduce your food costs without sacrificing flavor or quality. You can still eat well without spending a fortune.
for Spending Less on Groceries
Saving money on your food bill each month requires some planning. But it is a necessary chore that brings great benefits. With the economy the way it is now it is even more vitally important that we all find ways to “trim the fat” from our budgets. When prices go sky high in one area such as gasoline, then our budgets take a hit in another area. Let’s take a look at 17 tips for spending less on groceries but still eating and providing for our families well.
1. Use cheap meals as staples. Spaghetti, tacos, fried rice, egg or tuna salad, breakfast for dinner, the list goes on. Which meals are family favorites and also affordable? Work those into your weekly or monthly meal plans. Here’s some great suggestions for inexpensive but filling meals from a few of my friends. Go check them out:
- Red Beans & Rice from Maggie at Vintage Homestead Life
- Instant Pot Vegetable Noodle Soup
- How about some Grandma’s Favorite Chili from Lesa over at Better Hens and Gardens
- Kathi from Oakhill Homestead has a great recipe for Ham & Bean Soup
2. Use coupons and look for deals. Many stores offer sales on items you need each week, like milk or bread. Check your area’s newspapers and the websites of major retailers for grocery specials. Some stores even have reward programs that award you discounts after spending a certain amount each month.
3. Buy herbs in bulk. Fresh herbs don’t last too long in the fridge and can be expensive at the grocery store. Buy these items by the bundle instead of buying them individually to keep costs down. Better yet, grow your own herbs! I suggest Mountain Rose Herbs. They have the best selection at the best prices. I am not an affiliate for them, just have been purchasing from them for over 10 years.
4. Buy spices in bulk. Spices don’t last forever either and tend to be pricey at the store. Buy in bulk when possible or invest in a spice rack so that you can use up what is already on hand before purchasing more! Again, I would hop right on over to Mountain Rose Herbs for my spices too!
5. Eat out less often. Eating out adds up quickly, especially if you have a large family. Even at McDonald’s, which used to be super cheap, you can easily spend $40 for a meal. And let’s be honest, the food isn’t that great. Eating out is an occasional treat or a chance to celebrate – not for every meal. When we go out to eat, when…. we like to go around late lunch to early dinnertime. It’s less crowded, service is great, food is fast and prices are much much lower!
6. Buy generic brands when possible. While some people may prefer brand names, generic brands are less expensive and will offer the same quality. There are a few things I buy name brand, but most we buy generic and they’re fine. If we are brand conscious on some things, I usually wait until they go on sale to stock up. But that is very few items these days.
7. Buy what’s on sale. Take the circular from the store each week and plan meals around it. This can drastically reduce your grocery bill! Always buy what’s on sale, IF you use it. It’s not a sale if you don’t use it!
I have a few more great recipes for you to try that will extend your meals:
- Erica from Living Life in Rural Iowa shares Easy Skillet Spaghetti
- Frugal Refrigerator Clean-out Frittata
- and last but not least Corn Casserole
- Yours truly has a great recipe for Hearty Healthy Minestrone Soup
8. Make a list and plan ahead for groceries. When you do your shopping, it’s best to create a list so that you limit the impulse buys. Better yet, order your groceries online… that gets rid of last minute impulse buys completely!
I have 6 Meal Planning Pages for you – FREE!
These meal planning pages will assist you in planning your meals, planning your shopping and ultimately saving you tons of money, while still providing your family with yummy and nutritious meals.
9. Plant a garden. It takes some work, but growing your own food is a great way to save money – and is rewarding in so many ways. Gardening can even be therapeutic. If you end up having a good harvest you can preserve those goodies by dehydrating, freezing, canning and freeze drying (if you have one of those fancy machines – which I do not.) If you did not get a great harvest, don’t despair. Support a farmer and visit them for your veggies and fruits and still put up a good harvest!
10. Buy gadgets that make sense. Take a bread machine, for example. Package up baggies of all the dry ingredients needed to make various types of bread, put a label on them, and store them all in a container in the pantry. If I had to buy just one gadget, it would be a crock pot, or slow cooker. They save you tons of money and tons of time and are very handy to cook with in the summer (minimizes heat) and amazing in the winter. I could live without mine, but I don’t want to. Gadgets are great, and great time savers, but with our current economic crisis, I am choosing to batten down the hatches of my spending on these items. UNLESS it’s a necessity. For instance; I decided to purchase a manual grinder for my coffee beans, just in case the electricity bill gets way out of hand this dark winter. This is the little gadget I bought:
11. Use ice cube trays. Whether you’re saving herbs and spices, homemade bone broth, or frozen coffee, ice cube trays have so many uses and will save you time and money. Fill the trays with water and set in the freezer. Place a label on each tray of what you’re saving, so you’ll know which is which when it comes time to use them. I freeze my herbs, broth, etc and then I take the cubes and put them into a freezer bag for future use.
12. Spice it up. When you’re cooking staples like mashed potatoes, they can get boring if you don’t mix it up a bit. Add crushed red pepper, garlic, or even a little lemon. Changing the flavors of everyday dishes makes them more exciting.
Saving on food while traveling
Traveling on a budget is possible! Plan ahead, think ahead and even cook ahead!
13. If you can camp in your vehicle or can handle tent camping, you’ll save a fortune on lodging. If you stay in hotels, be sure to find ones that have free breakfast (but always compare prices). You can grab extra bagels, bread, muffins, fruit, cereal, and other breakfast items to eat as snacks throughout the day.
14. Use a rewards credit card. If you can get approved for a credit card with rewards, I highly recommend it. Some cards even have a 100,000 point sign-on bonus. That’s about $1,000 when translated to what you would spend in cash.
15. Shop at club stores. Stock up on snacks and easy meals at Sam’s Club or Costco. There are more than 100 Costco stores in California alone, as well as more than 30 in Mexico. No matter where you’re traveling by vehicle, you should be able to locate one. These club stores are also where we buy gas.
16. Keep a pantry and a cooler. Use a tote (or two) to keep a “pantry” during your travels. We have one tote for non-perishables, snacks, etc and then we also have a cooler. Packing a cooler and buying a case of water instead of buying individual waters at the gas station will save you a fortune.
17. Become a fan of soup. Whether you’re making your own or eating it at a restaurant, soup is usually a cheap option. Add potatoes or beans, or a cheap protein like chicken, to stay full longer.
BONUS: Allow for splurges. If you can afford to, allow for occasional splurges. Love visiting hipster coffee shops? Make your own coffee most mornings but once a week or so, check out a new coffee spot. If your family absolutely loves Italian food, save $100 or so for that once-a-month treat. Each option depends on your budget but don’t scrimp and save so much that you make traveling a chore.
If you’re looking for ways to reduce your grocery bill, it’s time to start menu planning, buying and cooking in bulk, and getting familiar with inexpensive staples you can work into your family’s mealtimes. What’s your best tip for saving money on groceries each month? Leave a comment below!
P.S. Don’t forget to DOWNLOAD YOUR MEAL PLANNING FREEBIES!
Live Simple, Frugal and Well,
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