Friday, March 7, 2008

51 Ways to Save Money on Food

Yesterday we saved money on fuel, today we will save money on food...

1) Don’t eat out, cook at home. This is the single most effective way to save money on food.
2) Cook from scratch instead of buying pre-prepared food.
3) Use coupons but only for really good deals or for items you would buy anyway.
4) Buy in bulk. If you have a small family, share the cost and the item with a friend or relative.
5) Check out ethnic grocery stores for great deals on spices, ethnic staples, fruits, and vegetables.
6) If you must eat out, use “buy one, get one free” coupons or share a meal.
7) When you come across a great sale, stock up.
8) Cook enough to have leftovers to take for lunch the next day.
9) Bring your own from home: morning coffee and muffin, lunch, bottled water, movie treats, etc.
10) Check out cookbooks from the library and write your favorite recipes in a notebook.
11) Buy smaller amounts of fruits and veges then use them up quickly to avoid spoilage.
12) If you are having a party or a holiday dinner, make it a potluck and have everyone bring something.
13) Plan your weekly menus around store loss leaders.
14) Invest in a freezer so you are able to stock up on meat, bread, etc. when they come on sale.
15) Cook double or even triple batches of your favorite meals then freeze the extras for a later meal.
16) Glean (with permission) from a farmer’s field or orchard after the harvest.
17) Forage for free local foods (ie: berries, nuts, mushrooms, etc.).
18) Make your hobbies those that produce food: fishing, hunting, crabbing.
19) Grow a small indoor herb garden.
20) Drop the soda habit. Soda pop is expensive and it’s not good for you anyway. Drink water or tea.
21) Buy in season (ie: a watermelon in December will be very expensive, but in July will be quite cheap).
22) Shop as infrequently as possible (once a week, once every two weeks, or possibly once a month).
23) Avoid pre-packaged and pre-prepared foods (ie: bagged salads, baby carrots, etc); a head of lettuce and bag of regular-sized carrots are much cheaper.
24) Barter. Figure out what you can trade with local farmers (plumbing services, yard work, etc) for eggs, produce, or milk.
25) Shop bakery outlet stores for great deals on bread and other items.
26) Make things you would otherwise buy from scratch. Items such as cookies, sweet and sour sauce, potato salad, and even Dairy Queen Blizzards can be made at home (find recipes for these items online).
27) Attend events that provide food at low or no cost. Meetings, the fire department spaghetti feed, etc.
28) Eat less. Portion size is way out of control. There is no reason to eat 5,000 calories a day.
29) Change your diet. You don’t need meat at every meal. A couple of meat meals a week, a couple of fish meals a week and three vegetarian meals a week will more than provide for your protein needs.
30) Try foods you wouldn’t normally eat. Try tofu, dried fish, and garbanzo beans.
31) Shop at the Dollar Store (for example, a can of nuts at the grocery store was $4, the same size can at the Dollar Store was $1).
32) Know your prices. Keep a price book so you will know when you’ve come upon a good deal.
33) Grow a garden. Even if you only grow your own tomatoes, you will save money.
34) Preserve your own food. Try canning, freezing, pickling, drying, etc.
35) Base your meals around staple grains (rice, bulgher, couscous, lentils, oats, etc.). Add a little meat or fish and handful of vegetables and you’re set.
36) Check out books from the library, study the “frugal food” topic online, read blogs, participate in forums…there’s so much information out there on saving money on food.
37) Never buy junk food. If you must have potato chips or cookies—even Twinkies—make them yourself.
38) Challenge yourself to eat all of the food in your house before you go shopping again. There’s probably stuff in the cupboard you haven’t seen for four years!
39) Create meals that stretch. Soups, stews, pasta dishes, salads…all of these meals can be easily expanded to feed more people or create more leftovers.
40) If you can’t grow a garden, join a CSA ( program.
41) When shopping, check out the unit price to make sure you are getting the best deal. Note that sometimes the unit price is not computed for sale items so bring a calculator.
42) Make up a weekly menu and stick to it. When you’re frazzled and have no idea what to cook for dinner you will be more tempted to order out.
43) Go grocery shopping with a list and cash; you’ll be less likely to pick up extra stuff and overspend if you aren’t using plastic to buy your food.
44) Buy a larger chunk of meat (whole chicken, side of pork) and cut it up. Why pay someone to cut up meat and sell it to you at a higher price when you can easily do this?
45) Organize your pantry. People often buy duplicate items because they are unorganized and can’t find an item because it is hidden in the back of the cupboard.
46) Have pre-cooked items on hand for a quick meal. Hard boiled eggs, boiled potatoes, rice in the rice cooker—all can be used to whip up a quick meal.
47) Check out the off-price grocery stores (Grocery Outlet is popular in our area) for food items that are much cheaper because they are over-runs, close to the expiration dates, or from other areas of the world.
48) Cut down on the snacks. One simple snack a day (a cookie, a muffin, popcorn) is plenty. Many people snack continuously throughout the day adding pounds and impinging on your food budget.
49) Make breakfast simply and inexpensively. Oatmeal, rice and eggs, pancakes…all of these items are cheaper and healthier than sugary breakfast cereals.
50) When traveling, eat cheap. Eat where the locals do, eat what the locals do (meaning no American fast food), always have food with you, and check to see if your hotel includes a free breakfast.
51) Always ask. If it’s the end of the day at the farmer’s market, ask for a deep discount on the leftover produce. If the neighbor’s tree is full of apples, ask if you can have some.


  1. Great list. Another one might be "Don't shop for food when you are hungry". People tend to make the wrong food choices when hunger is on their minds.

  2. In the photo, it shows bananas on top of other fruits. This is a way to quickly lose your bananas (no pun intended). Keep bananas away from other fruit and they will last longer.