How to save money on food?
A legitimate question, with many answers, yet we so often end up wasting money when buying food, when cooking and especially, when traveling.
Wouldn’t it be better if, instead of throwing away your money, in the form of food waste, you’d be investing it in something else?
Reducing the amount of food waste in your home is a great money saving tip to start applying today! Or the next time you go shopping for groceries.
Here’s a list of 25 ways to save money on food.
All these saving money tips are easy to follow and they won’t affect your nutrition – on the contrary, they might even help. Not to mention you’ll see positive personal finance results real soon!
SAVE MONEY SHOPPING FOR GROCERIES
1. Plan your grocery list
Before shopping for food, try and plan your weekly meals. Know what groceries you’ll need in order to avoid throwing extra food away.
This is the n°1 money saving tip when it comes to food! Food waste is money waste.
2. Never shop on an empty stomach
Always have a light meal or a snack before shopping for foods. You will avoid impulse buys and save money in the process.
When hungry, we’re tempted to buy items with ‘pretty‘ labels because the picture looks yummy. Whereas, if you’re full, you’ll most likely stick to your grocery list and avoid wasting money on food you’ll probably throw away anyway.
3. Check for coupons and special sales
Grocery stores and supermarkets usually announce weekly food sales ahead of time. They often give out coupons, either to newsletter subscribers, returning clients, they might print coupons in magazines and newspapers you’re already reading.
So, if you manage to plan your meals according to what’s on sale, you’ll save money before you even begin spending.
4. Read the small price per pound print
Before buying anything, check out the price per pound!
Don’t be fooled by the big sign saying “Special Offer, this is cheap”. Always look for the price per pound before making a purchase.
We’re often fooled by the large price print that grabs our attention. If you look closely, you’ll see how much money you can save by paying so much less for foods of equal quality, but different brands!
5. Buy food in bulk
If you notice your favorite grocery store is having a special offer, don’t hesitate to buy in bulk!
Produce in season usually costs less than during the rest of the year.
Take fruit for instance. All fruits can be frozen! Buy in bulk when fruits are in season during summer, freeze them for winter. You’ll avoid spending money on expensive fruit just because it’s not in season anymore.
Same with flour, sugar or canned food. Since they last longer, it’s easy to store them for later use.
Is there a sale on detergents or napkins? You get the idea.
6. Buy more frozen and canned foods
They have the same nutritional value as fresh produce and they cost less. Frozen foods have the advantage of you being able to use the amount you need. The rest goes back into the freezer, for later use.
Canned goods don’t spoil as fast as fresh foods. You’ll be saving a lot of money by not throwing away spoiled food!
7. Buy store brands
Save money on foods by buying store brands.
They’re much cheaper than national known food brands! Don’t think store brand foods means lower food quality. Bottled water, sugar and frozen vegetables taste the same as the big brands.
8. Grow your own spices
Some spices (and even foods) are so easy to plant and take care of, it’s a shame not to give it a try.
You could save a lot of money on spices, if you plant your own basil, mint, chili peppers or oregano. Such spices usually need little maintenance, they occupy little space and they’ll make your kitchen smell ‘delicious’!
9. Online grocery shopping
You don’t need to be a tech-savvy to buy groceries online.
You’ll save money on gas, you’ll save a lot of time and you’ll avoid seeing temptation all around you. Buy food online and save!
10. Plan a grocery budget
There’s no better way to avoid overspending than planning your budget!
It’s even easier if you pay cash, since you won’t have your credit card to fall back on if you overspend. Make a monthly or weekly grocery budget and try to limit yourself to spending no more than you planned! This is a great way to save money on groceries!
HOW TO SAVE MONEY WHEN COOKING
11. Cook at home
Yes, it’s a money saving tip. Cooking your meals at home will save you lots of money you would have spent on take out meals. You don’t need to be an expert cook, there are plenty of easy-to-cook recipes available online. Try them out and see how much money you’ll save after only 1 month!
12. Cook from scratch
Cut your own vegetables, wash your fruit at home, peel everything by yourself. Pre-washed, pre-cut, pre-peeled foods usually cost a lot more than their generic twins. Save money by taking 1 minute extra to prepare everything yourself.
13. Cook in bulk
When possible, cook more servings so you can either freeze them for later or pack a lunch for tomorrow at work! You’ll save a lot of money for 2 reasons: you’ll pack your own lunch so you won’t spend a penny on eating out, you’ll freeze the leftovers instead of throwing them away!
14. A full freezer consumes less energy
When your freezer is empty, it takes more energy to make the cold air circulate inside.
When it’s full, you actually save money on electricity! So, another great saving money tip is to cook in bulk as often as possible, keeping your freezer full is a win-win financial situation.
15. Learn how to cook smaller portions
Contrary to cooking in bulk, there are some meals you simply cannot freeze. And it’s a shame to throw them away. Take salads for instance. You can’t freeze cucumbers or lettuce, nor can you freeze mayonnaise.
16. Cook healthy meals
Switch to olive oil instead or sunflower. Use less salt. Avoid unnecessary food toppings, such as mayonnaise each time you cook meat. Cooking healthy will save you money on the long run. You’ll feel better and avoid costly health problems later on.
17. Make your own preserves
Save tons of money by making your own preserves, instead of buying! Is it strawberry season? Buy in bulk and make some jam! Do the same with tomato sauce and pickles, and see how much money you’ll save on foods you no longer need to buy!
Small business idea: Earn money making preserves.
18. Re-use food scraps
Use leftover bread to make breadcrumbs, instead of buying. With carrot and celery ends you can make a great vegetable broth! Save money by not spending it on foods you can prepare from scraps. Food scraps are great money savers, you just need to use your imagination and see if you can… cook something up!
19. Use a slow cooker
Investing in a slow cooker is a great money saver! Slow cookers allow you to schedule your meal cooking, so you’ll have dinner ready as soon as you come home, avoiding the temptation to spend money on take-out.
20. Replace or avoid expensive foods when cooking
We don’t need to eat meat everyday. Reduce meat consumption by replacing it with eggs or a side of extra veggies and save money. Sour cream can also be replaced by Greek yogurt, which is less expensive. Expensive spices, like saffron or vanilla, can be avoided altogether in some recipes.
SAVE MONEY ON FOOD WHEN TRAVELING
21. Brown-bag some sandwiches
This is a great money-saver, especially when you’re on a long road trip. Avoid spending money on expensive foods by stopping at the first food joint you see. Pack your own food for the road and save money.
22. Opt for accommodation with a kitchen
For the past few years, more and more tourists opt for accommodation with an available kitchen. Ever since the recession, saving money has become a priority, even if being on vacation means ‘doing nothing’. Save money by whipping out an easy and fast to cook meal.
23. Sign-up for restaurant coupons
Traveling doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have to spend a dime on restaurant meals. But you can be smart about it and plan ahead. Sign-up for restaurants newsletters to receive free coupons or check out their websites and know exactly when they offer dinner deals.
24. Pack snacks when you go out and about
Whether you’re traveling for business or leisure, it’s always smart to pack some snacks whenever you go out. Avoid spending money on food when you get a bit hungry between meals.
25. Avoid eating close to touristy places
While having a cup of coffee in the heart of a new city sounds nice, you’ll be paying triple, quadruple or even more for the luxury of sitting in a touristy area. Avoid unnecessary spending by finding better deals at restaurants outside the busy areas. Not only will you save money on food, but you’ll live a more ‘realistic’ experience of what the area you’re visiting has to offer.
What else would you add? Do you know of any other ways to save money on food?