How To Trim Costs Off Your Food Budget


WAYS TO TRIM COSTS OFF YOUR FOOD BUDGET


Groceries are a big part of our monthly expenditure and let’s face it, there are some surefire ways that we can all cut back on food bills and have more money to spend. 

A lot of the tips and techniques for saving money on your food budget are timeless and reiterated by many.....but can we ever hear them enough times?

Probably not because I know my one weakness that blows apart our budget sometimes is buying groceries. 

There are some common pitfalls and some things that maybe we just forget about from time to time.  Let’s review so they’ll be fresh in our minds!



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SAVING MONEY ON GROCERIES


Before you go shopping the next time, make a comprehensive, all inclusive list of every single thing in your cupboards, refrigerator, pantry and freezers.  List everything.....and while you’re there, check the expiration dates.  Write down any that are coming up soon, toss out things that are expired.

Now that you have the list, sit down and plan 1 week’s or 2 weeks’ worth of meals....breakfast to lunch to dinner.  Try and make your meal plan around the ingredients you have on hand right now and try and be as frugal as you can be about adding new items.  Do this until you have used up what you have in your fridge and freezer and cupboards, and then start from scratch.......but use up what you have on hand with as few additions as possible!

Write an itemized grocery list for what you need this time.  Next, organize it by store.  Vow that you won’t buy anything that isn’t on the list!

Leave off non-grocery items like paper towels and toilet paper.  Unless you know for a fact that a grocery store has the absolute bottom price for these non-grocery items, you’d do better to purchase toiletries, household cleaners, and paper products at another store such as the Dollar Store, Costco where you can buy in bulk, or other discount stores.  You’ll generally always pay more for these products at the grocery store.

Gather any and all coupons or rebates you have and organize them in an envelope before you leave for the store.  Look in newspapers, magazines, on line and on products.  Don’t forget rewards coupons or circulars that offer special deals.  Take them with you to remind you. Keep them in the car so you'll know that you have them when you need them!

Price compare for the items that you need on your current list.  Which store is the better deal?  Make sure your list is organized so that you’ll make one loop through the stores and one trip in total to multiple stores. 


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TIPS AND TRICKS TO SAVE MONEY AT THE CHECKOUT STAND


Just like the old adage about not going to bed mad….don’t go shopping when you’re hungry.  You’ll buy things you don’t need and you’ll be mad at yourself later.

If your kids are making your food budget go through the roof with foods that are processed and expensive, leave them home!  If they’re responsible and are helping you to coupon or helping you to save money by checking prices, enlist their support and use them to help.

Shop the perimeter of the store.  Most of the things that you "should" buy will be on the outside aisles of the store….like meats, produce, dairy products, breads.  The middle of the store is where most of the "evil", money-sucking items are lurking.....ready for you to grab them off the shelf and put them in the cart! 

Those high ticket, non-nutritional items like snack foods, frozen foods like pizza and ice cream, soda, and everything processed under the sun.  Try and avoid the center aisles of the store except for necessities like canned goods or baking supplies, cereals or condiments.  However, the cereal aisle can be a money pit as well if you get talked into buying certain cereals.



GENERAL RULES ON HOW TO SAVE MONEY ON FOOD BILLS


  • Don’t buy anything processed – you only spend more money and you get about zilch nutritional value
  • Prepare meals in larger quantities. Have twice during the week or freeze for another meal or two
  • Buy fresh if you can and if in season – frozen or canned if not – fruits and vegetables
  • Buy meat in bulk and freeze in separate packages (for instance from Costco)
  • Do it yourself when it comes to chopping up chickens or making stewing beef. Cut it up yourself and save money per pound. If you have a meat grinder, grind your own ground beef, chicken or turkey. Again the savings are in your pocket when you do-it-yourself
  • Do not buy chopped anything, prewashed anything, or microwaveable anything. You are paying for convenience when you can do it yourself and save money
  • Buy in bulk as much as possible to save money. Divide up with neighbors, friends, family, freeze, or store in appropriate containers. You will save money!
  • Try nonfat milk for recipes, powdered buttermilk, etc. You don’t need to use heavy cream, milk, etc. for most recipes.
  • Go vegetarian once or twice per week. Make a meatless chili or tacos using pinto beans or black beans. You’ll be better for it health wise and your budget will also be leaner
  • Use a dehydrator to make your own onion powder or garlic powder. Use it to dry herbs, vegetables and fruits to have on hand or add to dishes year round. You can even make your own jerky. The cost of a dehydrator is minimal and the savings can be enormous
  • Plant your own herb garden inside or outside and save big bucks on many varieties of herbs....even herbs for tea like peppermint
  • Make your own lunch meat from pork shoulders, whole chickens, tougher cuts of roasts, or turkey. Slice paper-thin and use for lunches. Buy a piece of frozen tuna at Trader Joe’s, grill it and use it to make tuna salad. Lunch meat is another processed food and you are paying for someone to prepare it for you. It’s also loaded with chemicals and additives
  • Pack your own lunches – skip chips and crackers and put in fresh fruit or salad. Add a cup of yogurt or an energy bar instead of pies, cakes, and cookies
  • Bake your own cookies, muffins, breads and treats. You’ll save money and you’ll be eating things that you actually know the ingredients of! Many muffins, cookies, breads, etc. freeze like a dream and you can thaw out what portion you need for lunches or snacks
  • Buy more vegetable and fruit snacks – like real fruits and vegetables! Chop them up and have them at the ready to replace expensive bags of nutritionless chips and snack foods. You’ll save a bundle!
  • Replace pop and soda, tea and coffee with water! You’d be surprised how it helps with appetite control, complexion and your overall health – if you don’t like cold water, drink hot water instead
  • Evaluate want versus need. Do not buy simply because you want it. Ask yourself if you truly need it before buying
  • Think generic and buy generic. Look at upper shelves and lower shelves for generic products that are often hidden from the main line of sight – the middle shelves. Never buy a name brand if there is a generic equivalent that’s cheaper
  • Check the day-old section of your supermarkets. You can get fantastic deals on breads, cakes, cookies and more
  • Stop by bakery outlets to get the same kinds of deals at enormous savings. Use some, freeze some
  • Leave vending machines behind – anywhere. Make your motto bring your own. You’ll save money and you’ll be healthier in the long run
  • Do u-pick in season and stock up. Stock up and freeze or can things like fruits and vegetables. Make your own jams and jellies
  • Learn to make your own sauces from scratch. They cost a fraction of the cost of prepared sauces and are more nutritious because they don’t have additives and sky high sodium levels
  • Try some on-line grocery shopping and see if you save money that way. Usually buying in bulk will save you money but beware of any fees for joining or shipping fees
  • Check out coupon websites like Coolsavings.com, Coupons.com and Startsampling.com. Even email or write to manufacturers of products you buy all the time and ask if they have coupons or rebates – it never hurts to ask
  • Invest in a chest freezer and stock up. Make meals ahead, buy items when on sale such as meats or chicken and keep a running list to be sure you use it all up in a timely fashion
  • Quit eating out! Prepare more meals at home and concentrate on quality instead of quantity. You can’t go wrong and you will save money!



In short, there are many and various techniques people use to trim their food budget when they get serious. 

It takes time and it takes devotion but you can save literally hundreds of dollars by using some of the above tips.

If you have more tips you employ to keep your food budget in line, please share them with us here in the space provided below. 

We can all use tips on how to save money on our food budget from time to time to keep us all on spot to save money!


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Comments 10 comments

akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

QM - I hear you - that is the new vogue on 'homemade'....well, I opened the packages and stirred it up....isn't that homemade?

I love it when things have like 85 ingredients on the packages too and almost ALL of them you have no clue what they are.

I prefer natural everything and think you are totally right....it makes sense that you know the ingredients and you save money.

Obesity is such a problem these days and if folks just thought about how our ancestors ate and what their lifestyle was....no brainer in my humble opinion!


The Quiz Master profile image

The Quiz Master 5 years ago from England

I work full time too but I prefer my food to my girlfriends so I have cooked her just about every meal for the last 7 years.

If more people cooked from fresh there would be a lot less obesity and people would live longer and be less ill.

I went to my mother in laws for dinner one day and she said she made it herself apart from the garlic bread which came out of a packet frozen.

What she meant by making it herself was that the lasagne wasn't a ready made frozen one. But the bolognaise and the carbonara sauce came out of a jar, infact the entire meal came out of packets and she simply put them together.

Needless to say I gave her my recipe and not only does it taste better but it costs a lot less to make too.

The cheese sauce for lasagne is so easy to make, it's butter, flour, milk and mature cheese, takes 5 minutes.

Same with the bolognaise, minced beef, onions, olive oil, tomotoes, garlic, basil and oregano. No salt in either, it's not needed.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Quiz Master - any time a guy cooks, I'm so excited! I think it's the greatest thing in the world to make your own everything....and glad you agree. I wish more people took the time to make their own food and especially to introduce their kids to what it means to have homemade!

I did with mine and they are all fantastic cooks....2 boys even and 1 girlie!

Now if I could just get Bob to cook other than with the BBQ....work in progress.


The Quiz Master profile image

The Quiz Master 5 years ago from England

I too do everything in your hub including growing my own herbs and making my own sauces, my best sauces are BBQ and Carbonara.

I'm a man and I do all the cooking at home, I regularly make lasagne, chilli, curry, stew and soups (to name a few) and freeze half for another day.

I never ever buy packets of anything processed, like you said everything tastes better when you make it fresh with a lot less salt, infact I use sea salt which is even healthier.

The problem with a lot of people is that they are just too lazy to make their own food to the detrement of their health.

Great hub.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Darski - Too hilarious....now I'm going with you to the supermarket but hey - whatever works. I have to tell myself that I'm doing my own no-no when I go off the list...but then Bob comes up and does it for me!


Darlene Sabella profile image

Darlene Sabella 5 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

Hi again Audrey, sometimes on my way to the store I think about you, I say to myself, shoot I'm hungry and this is a no no in Audrey's hubs. LOL but it's so true, and I can't cut cost more and each month it grows and grows in cost. We all need to have our own garden, cow, chickens, and a house and buggy that's my take. Wonderful hub rate up up love & peace darski


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Great Susan - we are all like minded....my problem is seeing things that I think about making and before I know it, I have too many items for just my 1 or 2 weeks. It always gets cooked and used but I have gotten better about ONLY buying what's on that list and it sure has helped!


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I too do everything you have listed here good Hub! I too do what Will says about the meat. When I make up my grocery list I have it organized by isles. Stick to that list and buy nothing extra :)


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Will - Those are fantastic ideas and I have to say, I'm impressed! Guys that know cooking things are just so sexy!! Thanks for the great tips to add for everyone to read.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Watch the meat counter for markdowns. There's nothing wrong with the meat; it's just getting close to its mandated expiration date or it has lost its artificially red color. Take it home and freeze it until ready to use.

Buy the cheaper, tough cuts and tenderize them by braising. An inexpensive, boneless chuck roast cut into 1 1/2" cubes and placed in a 325 degree oven in an inch or so of braising liquid (I use beer) and slow cooked with onions and carrots for three hours will result in a pot roast so tender you don't need a knife.

The secret is cutting it into cubes so it cooks on all sides.

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