Grocery shopping can always feel stressful as you see the cost of things adding up, but these days, it’s worse than usual. Costs are skyrocketing while income is not.
The good news is, it’s possible to not only save on your food bills but to also eat healthy while you’re doing it. Here’s how.
1. Shop the Perimeter
The perimeter of the store is the outside aisles.
Have you ever noticed this? The “basics” are almost all on the outside and back of the grocery store.
By putting staples at the back of the store (milk, eggs, cheese, and meat) you need to walk through all of the candies, cookies in teeny weeny packages, and chips with sprayed on fake cheese in order to get to them.
Most of that stuff in the middle of the store isn’t good for you–and it’s for sure not good for your budget.
So–avoid. avoid. avoid.
2. Make a Shopping List
Making a shopping list and sticking to that list can be a huge help towards saving money on your food budget.
You know how it goes. You plan on buying
- Pot Roast
- Organic Veggies
- Beans and
- Brown Rice
but somehow you end up with a cart full of
When you have a list written out ahead of time, you’re more likely to stick to it.
3. Shop Without Kids
Again, those grocery store marketing folks are geniuses. They know how to make the packages of sugar-coated stuff and chips and all super appealing to the Little Ones.
4. Eat Before Shopping
Go to the store on an empty stomach and you never know what you might end up within your cart.
‘Cause EVERYTHING looks good.
5. Check Online Prices
Here are some examples of online places to buy healthy food.
Prices there aren’t always better than elsewhere but it’s definitely worth comparing.
6. Shop Loss-leaders
Loss leaders are those items that a store advertises in order to get you into the store so you spend more on other things.
Basically the store is maybe taking a loss on those items, but they plan to make up for it on what you spend on the rest of your shopping trip.
Hubby and I were the Loss Leader King and Queen when we were first married. People in the stores would laugh at us with our cartful of 10 cent yogurts and oranges.
Oh well, we laughed later (well, we didn’t laugh, really, but we were glad) when we were able to get out of his 2 masters and a PhD with no debt. (yes, we did other things besides buy loss leaders, but you get the idea).
7. Eat Beans
Beans are a great protein source and work with almost any kind of diet (did you know 1 cup of lentils has 18 grams of protein? (Source) and are a real bargain. I buy all of my beans in bulk, dried.
– If you like beans, but don’t like how they–ahem– treat you, read How to De-Gas Beans.
– You can typically substitute 1 cup of dried beans for 1 pound of meat in any recipe.
Need some great bean recipes?
8. Make Your Own Pantry and Other Food Items
–within reason. None of us can do everything, right? I mean you could spend your life in the kitchen making
You don’t have to do it all, but if you can add one of these DIY pantry items to your kitchen each week, over time you will save a big bundle!
- Easiest Almond Milk
- Easy Coconut Milk
- Nut Butter
- “Best” Chili Powder
- Vegetable Broth Mix | All Purpose Seasoning
- Great Taco Seasoning
- Homemade Chocolate or Carob Chips
- Powdered Egg Replacer
- Powdered Sugar Substitute
- Vegan Avocado Dressing
- Vegan Ranch Dressing
9. Waste Not
Leftovers are a regular in our home. Instead of throwing the “I don’t know what to do with this”, why not put a bunch of little bits of stuff on the table and have yourselves a “Leftover Buffet” :-).
And if the “little bits” are veggies and meats and beans, put them all in a pan for a stir fry, or into a pot of soup.
We sometimes put the “little bits” on top of rice and just have a “throw together” meal.
10. Join a Whole Food Co-op
I’ve had one of these out of my home for about 11 years now and it’s been a HUGE help for keeping our budget in line.
I’ve done bulk purchases for things like spices, almonds, and other foods, ordering a very very large amount at lower prices and splitting it with other families to keep the cost down.
I mention these companies later in this post in the bulk section, but Country Life Natural Foods and Azure Standard are two great options to consider. You can buy 25-50 pound bags of items and split them with others who’d like to share in the savings.
We kind of have “brown thumbs” but they’re getting greener as we work on it.
Growing food can take a lot of time and can sometimes end up costing more than shopping for food, but you can also end up with some real savings as you get better at it.
You can start small with container gardening, or try going right into Lasagna Gardening (known for higher yield), and these tips for Gardening On a Budget or Saving Money Starting Seeds can help you save even more.
It’s not really standard gardening, but to save lots of money, you can check out this post on regrowing food from scraps for plants that even the brownest thumbs can grow.
12. Buy in Bulk
Buying food that you will eat before it goes bad is very often a great way to save money. I’m kind of the Queen of Bulk. Really.
To buy food in bulk, you can shop at a local farmer’s market and ask for discounts when you buy in bulk from them, or try some of these other options as well:
- Warehouse stores like Sam’s Club and Costco
- Country Life Natural Foods and Azure Standard both have larger volumes available for many foods including beans, sweeteners and even produce. We once got organic transitional pears from Azure Standard for only 40 cents a pound!
13. Learn How to Preserve Food
While preserving food doesn’t save in and of itself, if you know how to do this, you are more likely going to be able to buy in bulk (or hunt) and save money that way.
The following tools are all helpful for learning to preserve food.
You can try any or all of these methods, but this post about Which Saves the Most–Freezing, Canning, or Dehydrating has an interesting conclusion.
I hope these ideas are a help for you as you try to STRETCH your food budget. And if your budget is already under control, hopefully you got a tip or two to give you a bit more extra money or food to share with those in need.
Do you have some other ways to save money while still eating healthy to share? Please drop your tips in the comments area….