Americans spend between 15% and 30% of our income on food. It is the 2nd largest expense for a family apart from rent or mortgage payments.
So, it’s no surprise that people want to save money on food.
Yet, we all want to eat well, and nobody wants to cut too many corners in the kitchen for fear of obesity or food poisoning. So, with that in mind, we’ve put together a list of tips that will cut your food spending, but which won’t alter the quality of what you eat at all. Not one bit. We promise.
26 Ways To Cut Food Costs Without Noticing A Change In The Quality Of Your Meals
So, here are 26 ideas, yes, 26! That you can use to put more money in the bank without changing the quality of your meals at all. Enjoy!
26Say Goodbye To Pre-packaged Salads
Their convenience is over-rated. The pre-packaged salad is, in fact, less healthy than the one you make yourself and it saves you a maximum of 5 minutes a day.
When you make your own salad, the ingredients will be fresher (and thus have more vitamins and nutrients), tastier and more interesting to look at (they won’t be packed with wilting browning leaves).
Lettuce lasts well when refrigerated and makes a perfect base for the homemade salad. Give it a try!
25Buy Meat When It’s On Sale
For the carnivores out there, if you want to reduce the costs of your meat shopping but your meat when it’s on sale and buy it in bulk. Then freeze it. Freezing won’t hurt the meat and it can stay frozen for 3 months before you need to use it.
You can also save money on vegetables by buying them when they’re in season (and thus cheap) and freezing them for when you want to eat them.
24Grow Your Own Vegetables
Salads are awesome. They’re even better when you grow your own ingredients. A pack of seeds to grow leafy vegetables will cost less than $5 and you can grow, literally, hundreds of plants from them. That’s roughly the same price as a single bag of greens from the supermarket.
Hundreds of plants or one? It’s easy to see which is cheaper, right?
23Don’t Be Afraid Of Frozen Vegetables
If the “fresh” fruit and vegetables you buy aren’t local, they aren’t all that fresh. It takes time to harvest and then transport and pack and repack for retail sale. All that time, your “fresh” ingredients are becoming much less fresh.
Frozen vegetables and fruit, on the other hand, go from the field to freezing on the same day. They’re fresher than fresh vegetables much of the time.
They also taste good and frozen food rarely goes to waste.
22Get Spices In Bulk
Don’t buy little bottles of spices you use regularly. The price per ounce is usually insane. The retailer relies on you not noticing because you’re only buying a small quantity and that gives them very healthy margins.
Instead, buy spices in bulk. They have a very long shelf-life but not indefinite so aim for a 6-12 month supply each time you buy.
21Check Out Other Bulk Deals
Cereals, grains, seeds, nuts, etc. can all be bought in bulk too. Now, it’s fair to say they’re not always a bargain but check out the price per ounce over the smaller shelf quantities and if you can find a decent saving – take advantage.
Just make sure you buy what you need, you only save by buying in bulk if you don’t throw half of it away because it’s started to rot on your shelves.
20Get Into Canned Fish
Canned fish is ridiculously cheap and it’s also ridiculously healthy. It’s packed to the brim with Omega-3 oils and doctors say that’s the best fat you can eat.
I like to use canned salmon and tuna in salads or pasta. You don’t want to serve it on its own as the flavors can be overwhelming but get the right mixed dish and they’re really tasty!
19Watch The Fish Counter For Special Offers
Seafood is a chef’s favorite item. It’s so versatile and there are so many different flavors to enjoy. Sadly, it can also be quite expensive, but I’ve found that the fish counter always has one or two great deals on at any given time.
Buy the fish you want and freeze it. It will freeze for as long as meat will.
In fact, you may find that frozen fish is much cheaper than the stuff being sold “fresh” – if that’s the case, buy it pre-frozen.
18Stock Up On Staples When They Go On Sale
I find that many chains offer their own brand “value” products and these can be really good but if you’re like me and there are some brand names that you’re not willing to give up, then buying them in bulk when they’re on a promotion is a very good idea.
Canned goods, pasta, etc. have really long (if not endless) shelf-life so stocking up carries no real risks.
17Ground Beef Is A Brilliant Addition To Your Kitchen Regime
Ground beef can be made into hamburgers, pasta dishes, salads and more. It’s also dirt cheap and lean.
I love to turn it into meatloaf too. Whichever way you go with ground beef, you can’t go wrong. Your kids will love it and your wallet will too.
16Potatoes Are Superstars
Potatoes get a bad rap but they’re full of fiber, and Vitamin C and they’re a good source of Potassium too!
Best of all, they’re cheap, really cheap. Resist the urge to fry or roast them and boil and bake them and you have a genuinely healthy but filling addition to the family table.
15Whole Grains Are Good For You Too
When you’re bored of bulking up meals with potatoes then you might want to turn to whole grains. These too are bursting to the seams with fiber but aren’t going to put your kids off in the way that endless plates of spinach might.
Barley, whole-wheat pasta and brown rice are all tasty and easy to prepare while being very cost-effective.
Watch out, though, some whole grains are not cheap. Quinoa and wild rice represent pretty poor value for money and despite claims to the contrary – they offer very few demonstrable additional health benefits.
14Stop Buying Pieces Of Chicken
Chicken is delicious, and all of the chicken is both edible and tasty. Stop buying those skinless breasts which are insanely expensive when compared to buying a whole chicken.
Buy the chicken. Roast it. Eat half of it as the family meal for the evening. Keep the rest of the meat (and skin if you enjoy it) for sandwiches, salads or other meals. Keep the bones for soup stock.
It will save you a fortune and it will taste better – breast meat is really bland.
13Get With The Herbs
There’s no denying that fresh herbs can be costly. That doesn’t mean you should cut out herbs – they add a ton of flavor to the mix. However, you should look at purchasing dried herbs and mixed herbs instead of fresh.
There’s not that much difference in taste most of the time and you can save a fortune this way. You should, however, use 3 times as much dried herbs in a recipe as fresh. So, make sure the savings you calculate take this into account.
12Bring On The Beans!
I love beans. They are just filled with protein and fiber. If you buy tinned versions, they keep forever, and you can use them whenever you want. If you’d like to save even more money, buy dried beans, cook them in large batches and freeze the surplus.
11Respect The Eggs
Eggs are a fantastic food. They’re cheap. They are full of protein, they also come with plenty of the “good cholesterol” that you’re supposed to eat and they’re versatile too.
Fry them, scramble them, grill them, poach them, boil them, coddle them, etc. get your family into eggs.
And if you’re trying to lose weight – eggs will keep you feeling full making it easier to reduce the calories in your diet.
10Spring Into Slow Cooking Action
Your slow cooker is the way to turn tougher, cheaper cuts of meat into delightful meals. You can also turn, say, the leftover pork tenderloin into pulled pork in a slow cooker.
So, not only can you save money on buying meat but even when you buy more expensive cuts, you can make them go further than ever before. Slow cookers are a no-brainer.
9Plan Your Meals Before You Shop
If you plan out a week’s meals, then you can buy for those meals. That means less household waste because you’re buying what you need, rather than buying what you might need.
Shockingly, the average American throws out 300 lbs of food a year. That means the average family of four is junking over a ton of food a year! You’re paying for that. Cut down on waste and you can take that cash and use it for anything else you want.
8Sign Up For Cashback Schemes, Store Memberships And Discount Cards
This may be one of the easiest ways to save money, sign up for every store’s membership and discount cards, join all the cashback sites (you can find a lot of the best of those cashback sites over at MoneyNuts) and get the discounts you’re offered.
Don’t buy things you don’t need to save money. Do buy the things you’d normally buy and take any bonuses offered.
7Do Comparison Price Shop
It can be much cheaper to buy some of your groceries at one store and some of your groceries at another. Now, don’t drive across town to save $2 but if you can save $50-$100 – get in the car and head somewhere else. There’s an app called Favado which can help with this.
6Check Out Specialty Stores
Restaurant/chef stores, ethnic groceries, Asian markets, etc. all often have brilliant deals on bulk products or specialty products. Take advantage of that. Get adventurous and find out what’s out there. These places often even beat the big discount clubs like Costco for pricing.
5Speaking Of Costco…
Sam’s Club and Costco can save you a fortune too. Their deals are often unbeatable and quickly ensure that a trip isn’t a wasted one. I also recommend buying other household items from these places to save even more money.
4Make Your Own Sauces
Sauces have incredible margins leveled on them for convenience shopping but they’re often cheap and easy to make at home. You can make big quantities and freeze or bottle them. They will also have less sugar and taste better.
You can’t fail to save money like this.
3Visit A Farm Or Orchard
You can save a bundle of cash by going straight to the source for your meat, fruit, and veg. I like to take my kids to a “pick your own” farm and let them get some exercise and have fun while we shop. It’s way better than being in Walmart and it costs less.
2Be Brave Butcher Your Own Meat
Look, don’t go out and buy a whole cow and attempt to take it apart at home – that’s not likely to end well. Do, however, go out and buy large chunks of animal that just need further slicing and dicing into their constituent parts.
This is much cheaper than paying for butchering in a supermarket. Just make sure you have the freezer space for all that meat before you shop.
1Have A Leftovers Night
Put all your leftovers from the week on one shelf in your fridge. Once a week, have a leftovers night and use as much of that stuff as you can. Again, the more you reduce your food waste, the more you have to spend on other things.
So, as you can see. It’s easy to save money on food without making your family eat a lower standard of food. Best of all, most of these tips require very little effort to put into practice.
The easiest savings habits to form are those that require the least work on your behalf.