You know the old saying, Different strokes for different folks. The ways that I find to save money on food may be different than ways you or other people find to save on food. I've ran across many people over the years who do it differently than I do.
Many people go off budget when it comes to eating than in any other area of their budget. From expired food to overspending at the grocery store to eating out. Making a weekly meal planning ensures that you actually use the items you already have, purchase only what you truly need, and avoid harried trips through the drive-through on busy nights.
Eat at Home ~ This will save you so much money over eating out. So many families overspend by eating in restaurants on a regular basis. I love to eat out, but I know that if I do it several times a week I am not going to have enough money to cover our basic necessities and that won't work for me. Eating at home saves me money and here are some of the ways that I do that...
Shop at Discount Grocers - Such as Save-A-Lot, Aldi, The Dollar Tree. These will definitely save you money over big name grocery stores. Just the other day I found Secret deodorant at The Dollar Tree for $1.00 whereas I normally pay $1.96 for my favorite brand. These types of stores can definitely save you money.
Shop the Sales ~ I use this tool over every other tool listed here. Every Wednesday I gather up the sale ads or look at them online and figure out which food items are at the lowest possible price and then I go and stock up on them. by doing this, I ensure that I am buying food at the lowest price possible for me.
Couponing ~ The one website I use regularly for coupons is Couponaholic. If you see me mention I used a coupon for an item, 9 times out of 10 I have printed it from the Couponaholic website.
Warehouse Clubs ~ Gale over at Faithfulness Farm and Brandy over at The Prudent Homemaker are two people that I know of that shop at warehouse clubs to save money. My friend Anna pays for her membership just with the savings they receive on medicine.
Take an Inventory ~ The first step in managing your food supply is knowing what you have on hand and that means taking inventory. You can read about food inventories I've done in my home here and here. It is much easier to save money when you know what you have on hand to make meals with.
Use the Food You Have ~ Have you done an inventory of the food you have on hand? How many meals can you make out of that food? You might be surprised by how many meals you can actually make with the ingredients you have on hand. The other day I came home and made some rice and then opened up a can of low sodium mixed vegetables, which no one had been eating, and mixed them both together. They were so delicious and very inexpensive.
Salvage Stores ~ If you are fortunate to have a salvage grocery in your area be sure to shop there for inexpensive sources of food. We are fortunate enough to have United Grocery Outlets or UGO in our area. I have made posts here and here detailing the great savings we have found at our local UGO. Salvage stores are not like regular grocery stores that get new inventory each week, but rather sell items that traditional grocery stores won't sell any longer. They can be hit or miss, but we have found some great deals at our local one.
Free Food ~ Don't overlook sources of free food. We have a friend who gives us free food regularly. My Mom has shared food with us before as well. Some people volunteer at an event and are able to take some free food home afterwards. Free food sometimes shows up at work events as well. I know just last week I received a free lunch from Chick-Fil-A while subbing at the middle school.
Stockpile ~ We stockpile. I coupon for items that we use regularly, that have a long shelf life, when they are at rock bottom prices. And this reaps many rewards for us. Amy Dacyczyn referred to it as The Pantry Principle in The Tightwad Gazette. It is buying food at the lowest possible price and stocking up to last you through until the next sale.
Crash & Burn ~ Do you check out the dented can section of your favorite grocery store? There are usually good deals to be found there. I always visit these areas in our local grocery stores. I have found some of my best bargains in the Crash & Burn section. Just the other day I found a five pound bag of rice for $1.00.
Eat Leftovers ~ Oftentimes I've read that people don't like to eat leftovers. My family definitely eats leftovers and they enjoy them. My daughter loves to heat up leftovers from dinner the night before for breakfast the next day. This is definitely an area that will save you money, which leads me to my next point.
Avoiding Food Waste ~
When food reaches the use by or sell by date it doesn't mean it needs to be thrown away. The dates found on food items are suggestions made by food companies to ensure peak quality and do not indicate food safety. Food manufacturers make more money when consumers toss food they think has gone bad. Some people discard food when it's reached this date, but the truth is many foods can be safely consumed after these dates. For example, I never toss out buttermilk as it is good long after the use by date has passed.
Dumpster Diving ~ Last but not least, I saved this one for last as some people are turned off by this concept, which I understand. If you're interested in the topic you can Google it and find all kinds of information about it. There was a lady on the old AOL message boards named Mary who used to Dumpster Dive and she found enough food that she was able to share it with friends.
Be sure to browse through the archives here at the Frugal Workshop to read other ways we save money on food such as buying food in large industrial cans for example. And of course, my readers are a wealth of information on inexpensive sources of food. So please share with us how you find these sources.
Live simply by not spending money you don't have.
© Belinda & Frugal Workshop, 2011 - 2015.