How to Save Money on Food
Saving money on food is easy if you budget for food and stick to it. It’s possible to eat healthily by spending less money on junk food, takeout, and meal planning.
Try these money-saving hacks to keep extra cash in your account through the year. Small steps like the ones below are habits that will help you save thousands over time.
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How to Save Money on Food
1. Set an allowance for food
Allocate money for your grocery bill in a separate envelope. You can use the envelope method to do this.
2. Don’t shop hungry
An oldie but a goodie. I’m sure you know what happens when you go grocery shopping when you’re hungry.
3. Buy cheaper meats
Though cheaper meats can be tougher to cook, you can easily cook them tender in a slow cooker. You can even use an Instant Pot to cook meat in no time at all.
Though slow cooker and especially the instant pot are expensive to buy they make a worthy investment in the long term. You will not only save time, but you will save money too.
4. Make your own chicken broth
Again, chicken broth (and other types of bone broth) are super easy to make in the instant pot. It also tastes better and packs more nutritional value.
5. Use cash only
It’s so much easier to scan your credit card when you’re out shopping than if you use cash. You’re more likely to overspend when you don’t have cash in your wallet.
Try this method. It will help keep you more accountable.
6. Buy in bulk
If non-perishables are on sale (and it’s something you will always use), buy it in bulk at this time. Same goes for taking advantage of certain foods such as vegetables and fruit.
Just make sure, you plan how you will use and store it correctly. You will want to carefully avoid food waste through meal planning and preparation. Otherwise, you will waste money by wasting food.
7. Bake your own bread
It might seem old-fashioned and over the top, baking bread can actually save you money. Try to buy flour in bulk especially when it’s on sale, and learn to bake your own bread.
8. Treat your leftovers right
Stop throwing out good food. Even if you cook too much rice or pasta for a given dish, save it and freeze it for later. Next time you cook a meal, you can use that leftover as a side dish.
9. Cut back on takeout
You probably know this already, you just might not be doing it, right? Here is a tip to help you avoid takeout. When cooking, double your recipe to cook extra and freeze for later.
That way, you have lunch to take to work. Or even to eat on those busy nights when you don’t feel like cooking.
10. Go out for a coffee instead of dinner
When seeing friends or colleagues, try to opt for a coffee catchup instead of dinners or drinks. You will save a ton of money.
11. Brown bag your food
Don’t be afraid to ask for a doggy bag when you eat out. Why waste food? Instead, save money by taking your leftover food back home.
12. Fewer visits to the supermarket
Plan your meals and grocery list ahead of time, so that you shop less frequently. This is a really great way to save money if you do it right.
13. Clean out your pantry and refrigerator
Try to the Epicurious app to help you cook with ingredients you already have in the pantry and fridge.
14. Buy generic brands
You can save a whole lot of money by trying different brands. Try to move away from purchasing popular brands.
It nearly always tastes the same as generic brands, and can even be of the same quality. Read your labels, and choose to buy cheaper, generic brands if appropriate.
15. Start meal planning
Meal planning is where it’s at when it comes to saving money on food. If done correctly, you can even cut your grocery bills in half.
With meal planning, you will reduce food waste, plan meals in advance and reduce the number of takeouts you purchase.
If you don’t have the time to plan out your meals, there are services that can do that for you, complete with a grocery list.
16. Write a shopping list
Write what you need to buy, and take your list with you. And the most important part here is to stick to what’s on the shopping list.
17. Plan meals based on sales
It helps to take a quick look at what’s on sale before you go out to the supermarket. Plan your meals for the week based on the foods that are on sale.
18. Have a meatless Monday
Or even a meatless week if you can. Meat is the most expensive food and you will save money by having a meatless week once a month. There are plenty of delicious vegetarian dishes out there.
19. Drink water
Keeping hydrated is not only good for losing weight and staying healthy. It’s a good way to avoid overeating because of dehydration.
Try to drink a full glass of water before meals. Before you grab another snack, drink water first. Sometimes, you’re thirsty, not hungry.
20. Plan your snacks
We often think it’s the big meals that are hard to plan and save money on. Not having healthy snacks at home is a surefire way to spend money on junk food or even to overeat.
Plan your snacks for the week. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just make a list of healthy snacks and refer to the list when you need ideas.
21. Buy produce in season
Buy produce in season. You can freeze them for later use. You might also want to meal plan based on seasonal produce.
22. Make cheaper meals
Now, that’s not an excuse to eat processed food. Try healthy food types that tend to be cheaper like pulses. You can cook them yourself or buy canned.
23. Buy meat in bulk on sale
Buy meat when it’s on sale and freeze it for later. This is particularly easy if you have a large freezer you can use.
24. Buy meat whole
It’s cheaper to buy a whole chicken and freeze it in serving size portions than to purchase smaller.
25. Cook the food yourself
Save more money on food by cooking food you would normally buy canned or pre-cooked. For example, it’s easy to cook dried beans in bulk using a slow cooker or instant pot.
26. Plan what to eat out
If you plan to dine out, look for a restaurant with a cheaper menu before deciding on where to eat.
27. Buy frozen veggies and fruit
Not the movie. Buy frozen vegetables or fruit for use in soups, smoothies and other cooking. It’s cheaper to buy frozen berries for your smoothies instead of fresh.
Frozen vegetables and fruit also tend to be packaged at their peak, so you get the highest nutritional value.
28. Use cashback apps
Cashback sites and apps like Ebates will give you cashback on items you always buy (and even for certain restaurants).
If you plan to dine out, check what’s available at discount or with cashback incentive. Click here to get $10 cash back on your first purchase.
29. Plant your own garden
You will be surprised how many vegetables and herbs are really easy to grow at home. Try chilli, mint, parsley, cucumber, spinach. The list is endless.
30. Make use of loyalty programs
Take advantage of restaurants and cafes that offer reward or loyalty programs. Remember to be mindful how you spend in these places. You won’t save money if you purchase to accumulate points.
31. Eat out on “kids eat free” night
If you have children (obviously), a lot of restaurants offer “kids eat free” deals (some at specific times).
32. Shop without kids
Kids want to buy everything they see and sometimes it’s easy to give in and let them buy what they want. Even if it’s a $3 toy or candy, it adds up every single time you buy these.
33. Keep track of food in refrigerator
Check your refrigerator regularly for food that is about to spoil or close to the use-by date. You may cook, freeze or use in these foods in some way
34. Shop at Aldi and Costco
Be sure to purchase only what you need.
35. Maximize shelf-life of food
Learn how to increase the shelf life of different foods. It will help you reduce food waste and save money.
36. Shop late in the afternoon
For most shops and supermarkets, the sales happen late in the afternoon just before closing time. Find out the days or times when your local supermarket marks down the prices.
37. Declutter your pantry
Declutter your pantry before going shopping. You will find a few (if not a lot) of food you haven’t used yet. Make use of these before you shop for more, if possible.
38. Organize pantry items
It’s nearly impossible to keep track of what you have and don’t have, what to use now and what to use later if your pantry is cluttered. Be sure to organize your pantry in such way that everything is visible.
39. Organize your refrigerator
Do the same with the food in your refrigerator so that most food items are visible and easy to keep track of.
40. Label food
Be sure to label food that you have opened if the use-by date comes off with the packaging. If you cook or prep and freeze food, you should label before putting it in the freezer.
It makes it easier to find and it’s good practice for food safety. More importantly, you will save money since you can easily take inventory of what needs to be used sooner etc.
41. Use serving size portions
Place cooked or prepped food in serving portion sizes for freezing. This makes your life easier when it’s time to defrost.
And you’re less likely to waste food by cooking large portions unnecessarily, especially if you live alone.
42. Avoid pre-cut food
Don’t pay extra money to take shortcuts, such as buying chopped vegetables and fruit. For example, you can opt for whole garlic instead of garlic paste (which costs more).
43. Learn to store food correctly
If you don’t know what food needs to be stored a certain way, learn it. It’s a life skill that can save heaps of food waste (and money).
44. Don’t buy bottled water
Even if you are at a restaurant, choose to have regular old water, instead of paying extra for bottled water.
45. Keep backup meals
I always like to have backup meals in the freezer for those nights when I’m exhausted or can’t be bothered cooking. It’s a great way to avoid buying takeout and eat healthily.
46. Make your coffee at home
It’s a fact. Coffee can cost you upwards of $2000 per year. Think of what you can use that money for instead.
No need to give up coffee though. Try using an affordable coffee machine (this is the one I use). It’s an investment worth making since you spend less than $1 per cup by doing this.
47. Cut back on alcohol
Alcohol is expensive, especially if you’re buying for a party or gathering of some sort. Try to limit alcoholic drink purchases as much as possible.
48. Avoid sugary snacks
When you’re in the supermarket, make a point to skip the aisles packed full of sugary, processed foods. It will do your budget (and health) some good.
I hope you liked the tips on how to save money on food.
Over to you. What are the ways you save more money on groceries and eating out?