Tips for cutting your food bill

After analyzing your expenses, you may notice that food takes a big chunk of your money. Chomp. While you can’t stop buying food, you can reduce your food costs. Here are 22 tips for cutting your food bill.

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groceriesAfter analyzing your expenses, you may notice that food takes a big chunk of your money. Chomp. While you can’t stop buying food, you can reduce your food costs. 

  1. Plan your meals  Pick a day, sit down and plan your meals. Map it out – breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks. Leave wiggle room for leftover nights or an unexpected meal out.
  2. Shop alone  It’s best to shop alone – without kids and spouses who may sway you from your plan.
  3. Don’t shop hungry  You’re more likely to over buy or buy treats when you’re hungry.
  4. Skip grocery shopping for a week  Instead of shopping for new food, spend a week eating the food in your pantry, fridge, and freezer.
  5. Don’t waste food  Wasted food is wasted money. The average American wastes about 25% of the food that they buy. Tracking my food waste has helped me reduce my food waste and save money. Try buying less food than you think you need.
  6. Plan your meals around what’s on sale  Let the weekly food ad be your guide. Start with the produce section. Produce is inexpensive and so good for you. Make a list of the sale produce that you like. Make sure you have a recipe and a plan for everything you buy. Buy meat that’s on sale or consider eating beans; the cheapest source of protein on the planet.
  7. On sale = good deal?  Just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean it’s a good deal. Stick to whole foods and products that you normally buy.
  8. Eat from your freezer  Your freezer is not a burial ground. Keep a log of stuff you put in the freezer, so that food can be easily retrieved and enjoyed. 
  9. Allow time to shop  Finding good deals can take time so allow time to shop.
  10. Stick to your plan  Only buy items on your grocery list.
  11. Buy inexpensive staples  Get the most bang for your buck with: carrots, broccoli, beans (canned or dried), canned tomato products or spaghetti sauce, dry pasta, bananas, lentils, grains like quinoa or millet, oatmeal (an excellent choice for breakfast), eggs, lettuce, tortillas, brown rice, nuts and seeds (good protein).
  12. Use your knives  Buy large products and cut them down to size.
  13. Don’t go bulk crazy  Buying in bulk only saves money if there’s no waste. 
  14. Make your own bread and soup  A big ol’ pot of soup creates many meals. Consider starting each meal with a little cup of soup. Also homemade bread is divine and less expensive than store bought bread. Forget convenience – discover the joy of homemade bread.
  15. Don’t buy beverages  The best beverage is already available at your home: water. Other beverages aren’t necessary and usually involve a plastic container. Try making flavored waters at home if water gets boring.
  16. Redress leftovers  Learn to disguise leftovers so that every meal seems fresh and new.
  17. Stick to the outside aisles  The outside aisles of your grocery store include whole foods; ingredients are cheaper than prepared meals.    
  18. Compare unit pricing  The price sticker on the grocery store shelf includes a price per unit amount (i.e. price per pound). Use the price per unit to find the best deal. Don’t buy the cheapest or largest item. Let the price per unit be your guide.
  19. Try store brands  Can you tell the difference between Safeway detergent and a name brand? 
  20. Try batch cooking  You can save time and money with batch cooking –  pasta sauce, lasagna, a casserole, soup, or burritos. Divide your big batch in to meal size pieces and tuck them away in the freezer.
  21. Eat less meat  Use less meat in your recipes and more veggies or beans.
  22. Use homemade cleaners  Baking soda and vinegar make great household cleaners. See 25 Safe, Non-toxic, Homemade Cleaning Supplies.

Have some more ideas? Please leave a Comment.

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This article is included in Festival of Frugality hosted by Stretchy Dollar.

Author: Kate

I'm a writer interested in photography, philosophy, bikes and simplicity.

7 thoughts on “Tips for cutting your food bill”

  1. Also consider shopping at warehouse stores like Costco, and if possible coordinate with a neighbor or two to split items and cost. Not all items there are a better deal than a grocery store sale, but many are.

    And if you have a store that sells spices, flour, rice, etc. in bulk that can be a better way to go than buying the full package at the grocery store. Why spend $7 on a jar of a spice I need for 1-2 recipes when I can get a couple of tablespoons of it for cheap?

  2. Shop at Aldi. Ground turkey for $1/pound. A 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes with Italian seasoning added is quite a bit cheaper than buying pasta sauce. Two pounds of ground turkey plus one can of crushed tomatoes plus one pound of macaroni makes a nice pot of goulash that will feed eight for about five dollars (need to add some garlic and maybe some onion powder).

    Shop at Gordon Food Service. Big containers of many spices can be shared with a neighbor and cost as much as those pissant McCormick jars with only a few ounces of spice.

    Costco has fifty-pound sacks of rice that can be divided and shared (or not as the case may be).

  3. Solid advice. I’ll add: learn to cook! We’ve been skipping the packaged junk food for a few years now but I’ve recently upped my efforts to include making my own bakery items (french bread, sandwich rolls & bread, tortillas, cinnamon rolls…) and “convenience” foods (frozen fries, soups, salad dressings….)

  4. Great one to do for one week a month .. skip grocery shopping! It never fails .. we did have a good meal (or several) between the freezer, fridge and pantry every single time I skip going to the store. (Being someone with real cravings for foods and a love of cooking, I can easily go to the store 3-4x/week.)

    Skipping the grocery store is a great way to waste less, save money, and teach children some good values. Very simple meals can taste great, I think we can forget that. You can have some fun concocting what’s for dinner and introduce your kids to new foods out of necessity – this is what we have.

    When all else fails during the skip the store week, my kids love breakfast for dinner!

    Thanks for the ideas, Kate, and nice writing style. I very much enjoyed your articles.

  5. I’m going to have a ‘skip shopping’ week. I’ve always wanted to do this. I’m in the midst of a kitchen declutter and I’ve realised just how much food I have stashed away. So this is next on my list and I’m looking forward to reducing food waste AND saving money.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

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