You are always looking for ways to cut down your monthly expenditure and maximize your savings. Well, this is a good thing to do especially with the rising cost of gas, groceries and other utilities.
I have analyzed 30 strategies that will help you save on food expenses. Some of these strategies are directed towards your food budget while some simply teach you how to handle food and avoid wastage.
These smart strategies will help you save money on food
- Plan for the future
Planning for the future is a wise thing. And by “future” I mean later. In fact future means later. Do this by checking through your previous shopping list and compare with what’s left in your fridge. If there is a lot left, then you cross that out from your shopping list.
This planning will help you avoid buying excess foods. You also have a chance to know what you’ve been buying but haven’t been consuming a lot. Such products can be bought in smaller quantities.
- Avoid Prepackaged Salad
Packed foods are convenient. But you have to choose between convenience and cost. Rather than prepackaged salad, include raw vegies in your shopping list and make salad at. For real saving, make your own little garden and grow vegetables. It saves a lot
- Invest in a club membership
Though this idea sounds more of a gamble than a saving tip, it helps save! Some stores offer premium membership packs for regular shoppers. Id such membership costs $100 per month, it will help you limit your budget for the month to exactly $100. You may get luckier when the store offers discount on your premium membership subscription
- Go for frozen vegetables over canned vegetables
There is bad misconception about frozen vegetables but their bases have not been established. In addition to being expensive, canned vegetables have additives which reap the food off their natural taste. Go frozen vegies and you sure will have saved on cash as well as enjoy natural vegetables with no additives
- Check into the farmers market
Before you go out to shop, scan your area and find out which farmers have own food stores. Farmers markets are cheaper because of the minimum cost incurred. The food stuffs you’ll buy from farmers market are fresh
- Wait and shop on season
Sometimes you just need a little patience, well may be a lot of patience. When food products are in season, they become very cheap and this is the right time for you to make your purchases. After buying, you may consider freezing them. This tip will help you save a lot of cash especially on fruits
- Grow your own spice!
Do you know how much you spend on spice jars every month? I don’t think I am the one to tell you that but I recommend you do your homework. Thyme, Rosemary and basil are examples of common spices that can be easily grown on your kitchen garden. This will help you save the tens of dollars you through away on spice jars
If you cannot grow your own for reasons best known to yourself, I suggest you buy in bulk from stores that offer discount on huge sales.
- Buy in bulk
Don’t be the type who runs to the nearest stores to grab a packet of rice when the water boils. And no, spices are not the only thing you can buy in bulk. It becomes cheaper when you buy grains, flour, oats, etc in bulk. When buying in bulk, look for wholesale stores rather than the retailing stores. This helps save couple hundred dollars annually.
- Go Homemade on bread products
The next time bread goes stale, don’t throw it away. This may sound crazy but it is fun and helps save on cash. Stale bread can be used to make bread crumbs or can be baked into croutons. SO next time you throw away stale bread, you risk spending on bread crumbs and croutons and that is not wise spending
- Go Creative
Did you cook so much rice than you and your friends could finish? Use it to stuff peppers. Too many mashed potatoes remaining, make shepherd’s pie and use it for dressing. Too many ripe bananas? Good. Make some ice cream with them. The point here is that you have to get creative with your left overs. By doing this, you are avoiding spending and this means, saving cash. It’s that simple
If you have some left over and you are not sure what to use it for, big brother Google has a lot of ideas and will be glad to share them out with you.
- Buy on sale
Well if you haven’t noticed your local store will always put something on sale. This means that you get discount when you buy them. That’s a good opportunity, grab it. Don’t wait for your vinegar to run out when it’s on sale today; probably it won’t be on offer when your bottle dries out. SO be smart look out on what’s on sale today
- Carry your vegies forward
Sometimes we are not too accurate with our estimation and you might just have cooked too much vegetable. Well, you can throw the excess away (and run dry after a week) or you can freeze and use them for another meal (prevents spending)
If you throw out just a third of what you prepare daily, you will be headed for the grocery stores in less than a week and that’s not saving. So, always keep your vegies for the next meal.
- Avoid shopping when hungry
When you are hungry, your mind often tends to direct actions that will solve the problem at hand which is hunger. At this time, you will go for fast and convenience food which is not just economic enough.
When you are planning on shopping and you feel hungry, II suggest you attend to your stomach first. The loss that can be brought by shopping when hungry are not what you want.so, don’t do it.
- Bring your own lunch
You don’t have to always go shopping to save on cash. Sometimes bringing your own lunch to work can do your money some justice. You save $20-$30 for every week you bring your lunch to the office.
What’s the point of shopping when you buy coffee in the morning, have a favorite table where you eat lunch and take somebody out every dinner anyway.
- Buy Beans
You need more proteins? Canned beans are rich in proteins and are cheap. Dried beans are rich in proteins too, but are cheaper. You know which option is relevant to our topic is discussion, Right?
Basically, there is always a cheaper option for whatever product you want. However, you should be careful as not to
- Invest in a water bottle
I know it’s fancy to carry around bottled water but trust me; it doesn’t do you any good! Here’s what you should do to avoid spending on bottled water. Buy a reusable water bottle and start using it. It’s that simple.
- Go vegetarian once in a while
I understand the mention of “vegetarian” brings the picture of boring herbs but trust me, it’s not that bad. Try going vegetarian twice every week and you will be amazed at the amount of money you save over time
- Make use of your ice cubes trays
You probably think that ice cubes trays are meant for ice cubes alone. It’s a good argument given that that was its original purpose but look beyond ice cubes folk. You can freeze left over wine (Really!), fruit juice (Tell me how it turned out) or buttermilk. Add these “Ice wine”, “ice fruit juice” and “ice buttermilk” to water to add flavor. This is way much cheaper than flavored water
- Label and Date your products
Sounds really stupid right? I will tell you why you should. Say you went out and saw steak on sale. You grabbed three pieces and threw then in your freezer because I told you to take advantage of products on sale. But there were two more stakes in your freezer. You will not know which one has been in the freezer longer than the other and so you risk wasting them because they have been in the freezer for just too long.
The bottom line here is to help you practice the “first in, first out” principle. At the end of the day, you get to save
- Do not overstock perishable products
Fruits, vegetables and fresh cereals often have short shelf life. Avoid buying them in bulk. It is also good to check the expiry dates of the products you are picking from the shelf because you can never be too careful. Remember, you don’t have to buy something simply because it is on sale and you are not going to use it soon. If you do and it expires, that’s money wasted because no store takes back products that expired under your watch
- Compare prices
This is a perfect way to land a cheap store and one that you will consider making it your regular store.
Often, the difference in products prices will be in cents and you only realize that you’ve saved a significant amount when you shop in bulk. You may also want to consider checking what stores offer discounts on purchases exceeding a certain amount or what free products you are being offered for being a loyal customer. Some stores have loyalty perks.
- Take advantage of happy hours
If you feel you must just eat out, then I recommend you look for restaurants that have happy hour or coupons. You may not use a couple daily but saving starts small. Doesn’t it?
You may also consider bringing your friend along if your favorite restaurants offer groupons. Sometimes it’s their way to make you bring your friends to check their menu and it’s also a perfect opportunity for you and your friends to save a couple bucks
- Eat local
This is a great tip to save big when travelling. The notion out there is that tourist, domestic or foreign, have a lot of cash. So go local. Ask the locals where they eat lunch or dinner. You will be shocked at the disparity in prices between these two categories of food joints.
If you are visiting a town and you intend to stay with a friend, or rented a guest room in a family house, it’s financially wise that you ask your friend to allow you to make dinner together. Similarly, you can request the hosting family to include you in their dinner plans.
This is way cheaper than eating out daily
- Shop once a month
I have personally benefitted from this experience. I used to pass by the market every day to pick onions, tomatoes, coriander and the likes. Then a friend told me the secret behind bulk shopping. Of course I tried to argue about the perishability of these products but his argument was just too strong
Here is what he advised; buy tomatoes that are not too rice and store them in warn condition, buy onions in bulk and deposit cash with your local store for daily pick up for coriander. I did exactly that and it helped me save a lot. Using this as an example, just check through your list and single out those products you can buy in bulk and do exactly that
- Plan your meal according to what you have
Don’t plan on having a turkey for dinner when you don’t have one in your freezer. Likewise, don’t plan on having chicken when you have turkey in your freezer.
Planning what you haven’t already bought will only compel you to go and buy it. SO example, in scenario one, you will go buy turkey because you have planned on it but you don’t have and in scenario two, you’ll buy chicken when you have a perfect alternative. Both scenarios will cost you more money
- Use some apps
It is amazing how technology has advanced. You can now find what stores offer discounts on what products and what items are on sale at the click of the button. Other than saving you money, these smartphone apps save you time
- Cut down on dairy products
Cheese and milk are expensive and sometimes are cup of coffee is just better and cheaper. So, try suspending your dairy intake for a while. You can always resume when you feel you’ve saved enough
- Don’t buy products for their packages
Sometimes we tend to buy products because their packaging is just too attractive. We forget to make price comparison with seemingly more ugly packaged products which might be cheaper thus losing out (Both on cash and on the packet you’ll throw away)
- Shop with a friend
DO you know any stores that offer discounts on huge purchases but your monthly shopping just won’t hit the threshold? Don’t worry grab friend and go shopping together. It has to appear that you are one otherwise the little trick won’t work as you will be billed separately
- Visit a friend
Don’t feel like making dinner and you are trying to avoid eating out? Well, call a friend and ask them if you can join for dinner (Good luck). Expect to reciprocate someday and you and your friend could just be helping eat other save on food.