How I Save Money on Food & Groceries

by Allison W. on 2012-09-1310

So who’s hungry? Beyond using online coupons, you can also try these kitchen tips to help you save money on food and groceries.

So how much do you typically spend on your average weekly food bill? Do you even have a rough answer?

Don’t panic if you don’t, because I was in this exact same boat a few months back. The New Year brought with it the desire to save money and start anew, and so far I’ve been amazed at how much money we were spending on food in our household.

And the thing was, we didn’t exactly have a kitchen chock full of expensive foods either. So since I am in charge of the kitchen and do all the cooking in our house -– through choice, because I love it — I decided to take a fresh look at our grocery bill to see where I could cut costs. Well here were some painless adjustments that I ended up making:

How I Save Money on Food & Groceries

1. Patronize a lower cost store or supermarket.
For starters I switched to a lower priced supermarket and there is no doubt that this move made a significant difference. But it’s not the only thing I did. I started looking into the details of the weekly shop rather than just trying to bring down the total amount.

2. Use generic ingredients.
The trick is in thinking small and focusing on how you do things in the kitchen. For instance, we all know that moving away from brand names and opting for generic brands is the best way to go. But that’s an old trick. There are new ones you can use as well. Do read on!

save money on food
Image from Urban Homesteader

3. Use alternative ingredients when making meals.
Take my Spaghetti Bolognese discovery for example. I used to make this with a brand name sauce that cost me around three dollars a jar. But now I use passata instead, which I can get for around sixty cents a carton. That’s a full 80% cheaper –- and it has the added bonus that you can use it for dozens of dishes, so it’s great to have in the store cupboard. Chuck in a few herbs and some tomato puree for a bit of bite (also very cheap), plus your usual onions, mushrooms and garlic, and you’ve got a great value Bolognese sauce.

4. Be a resourceful cook and think ahead!
A similar result can be achieved with other dishes as well if you think about the details. For example, I make beef mince stretch further by putting a can of baked beans in with it for a cottage pie. Once again it’s cheap and it’s a good store cupboard standby. And my home made cottage pie is way better than anything I can buy ready made.

I discovered that this is the secret of cutting down on my bills. I find alternatives, use different makes of products and search for replacement items which enable me to make a cheaper meal than I would be able to otherwise.

And this is how I’ve been able to reduce our grocery bill virtually in half. And the best part is that we’ve barely noticed the difference.

If you do this right, you don’t even have to worry about turning your food planning and budgeting activities into a chore. Far from it in fact –- you’ll love every minute of being able to challenge yourself in the kitchen to produce recipes and great food quickly and easily with ingredients that are a lot cheaper. I certainly do.

I continue to reduce my shopping bill by looking for alternatives and trying new recipes every day. Not only have I halved our food bill, but I’ve also created some great new recipes and probably eaten more fruit and vegetables too. Now isn’t that a great bonus?

For more on cutting costs around the home (or anywhere), check out these best ways to save money and these personal stories by SVB on how she’s managed her spending:

Created Mar 22, 2010. Updated September 13, 2012. Copyright © 2012 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Stacey March 22, 2010 at 11:59 am

Best way, hands down, to save money at the grocery store: don’t even set foot in the “snack” isle (or isles… my store only has one). Find your snacks in the produce section NOT from a bag of chips, box of cookies or case of pop!

Silicon Valley Blogger March 22, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Agree completely! Not only do snacks take a bite out of your food budget, they also make sure you stay addicted to them. I am a recovering junk food addict and I found out for myself — yes people have been saying this forever — that changing your diet will make you lose your taste in the food that you no longer eat. Cut down on fat and you’ll eventually find fatty foods gross. Cut down on sugar and your taste buds become sensitive enough to find almost anything with a hint of sugar as “too sweet”.

So if you are able to cut out sugar, salt or processed foods, you’ll be amazed with what it will do for your health and not just your wallet.

Credit Girl March 22, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Another tip is to consider using everything in your fridge and pantry before you buy new groceries that way you won’t waste money on food that has rotted and you’ll be able to see what creative meals you can make with the ingredients that you do have.

Goran Web Design March 24, 2010 at 11:43 am

Groceries are a killer, especially if you’re buying snacks and processed foods. From a healthy waistline & wallet perspective it always makes sense to buy fresh and raw produce, that you then create your own dishes from. That way you eliminate your food being denatured from processing, along with avoiding the MSG, salt and sugar that gets added to improve the taste, while saving at the checkout point at the same time.

Stephen April 1, 2010 at 8:18 am

Great ideas here. I would add that if you have the grocery chain Aldi in your area to visit that for the essentials. I have noticed that Aldi is consistently 40% cheaper than most other supermarkets. The downside is that not everything is there and you have to rent grocery carts. Kinda weird, but worth it to save some serious cash.

Sarah November 2, 2010 at 7:57 am

Great Tips!
My family is keeping a Grocery Diary this month and recording what we buy, what we what we spend and what we eat for an entire month. I’m recording all of the information (including recipes) on my website in the hopes that I can help other people save money on their grocery bill.

Susan March 16, 2011 at 10:46 am

Healthy snacks are not just for kids. Fruit is good for all of us. Natural juices are a great alternative to sodas.

Terry September 13, 2012 at 12:58 pm

I shop at a lower cost supermarket but they don’t accept online coupons, which kinda negates the idea of even offering a coupon.

Aaron Hung September 15, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Very good tips:) my wife usually thinks ahead of the week and plans out exactly what she’s going to cook. Always grab the coupon papers when entering the door is another thing. hehe

Occupational therapist salary 2012 September 25, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Coupons, coupons, coupons !!! Just from the coupons in the sunday paper I cut my grocery bill by one third every week. Also buy less food than you usually do. I started keeping track of how much food I threw away when I clean the fridge. Now instead of buying two cabbages, I buy one small cabbage instead.

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