There are a lot of ways to save money on food but people rarely put them into effect. Now, just so that you know, I am not talking about eating nothing but Ramen noodles. There are ways to shop that can save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars every year without affecting your quality of living. Take a look at some of the methods that I use and try to put some into effect this year.
1. Shop Online For Grocery Staples
Most stores offer online shopping these days. This is not only a huge time saver, it is also a huge money saver. Why? Because it allows you to stick to buying what you need. Without having to push a cart around, you will not be tempted by all of those fancy end caps.
In store, merchandisers use all kinds of tricks to get you to spend more. They put more expensive name brands at eye level, tempting candy bars at the checkout and toys within easy reach of kiddos sitting in a cart. A physical trip to the store could easily wind up costing you an extra $20 to $40 and that is a conservative estimate.If you buy groceries once a week, like most families, that is an easy 2000 dollars over the course of a year.
In addition to saving you money, online shopping also saves you time. Just fill out your order and drive up later in the day to pick it up. They bring it out to your car and will even load it for you, all for free.
If you have not taken advantage of online shopping yet, make it a point to do so in 2020.
One caveat though, use this method for staples only. Produce and meat is best purchased in other ways but we will get to that.
2. Buy Produce At A Farmers Market
Produce and grocery stores do not go together well, especially if you shop online. If you order produce online, you will generally not get the cream of the crop. The store shoppers just are not going to scrutinize the produce like you would.
In addition, a farmers market will almost always beat the grocery store on pricing. Better quality for a much lower price, it is hard to beat.
If you have one in your area, my preferred store is Sprouts. Great prices and very high quality produce.
One thing to keep in mind when shopping for fruits and veggies is to be realistic. It is very easy to get carried away and buy too much. Never buy more than what you can reasonably use in a week. It is better to have to make a return trip than to have to throw away pounds of spoiled produce at the end of the week.
3. Shop The Loss Leaders
One thing that I do every Tuesday night is check the online grocery store circulars. Most stores release their new circular on Tuesday with prices going into effect the next day. They like to throw in a few items that they sell cheap, often for a loss, to get you into the store.
I then make note of the loss leaders and make it a point to go in and buy these items and these items only. The loss leaders can be anything from snack cakes to juice boxes to meat, with meat usually representing the best deal.
When they have a sale on meat, go in and get as much as you can and take it home and freeze it. Properly prepared, meat can last months in the deep freezer. The key is to keep it as airtight as possible to prevent freezer burn.
If you do not have a deep freezer, make this the year that you go out and get one. A good chest style one can be had new for around 150 dollars, even cheaper on Craigslist. The money is well spent and it will pay for itself in a matter of months.
4. Stop Buying Processed Food
This means learning to cook and anyone can do it. There was a time that I could not cook at all. Even something as simple as boiling an egg to make hard boiled eggs was a task. I started slow and taught myself to cook and it was one of the best things that I ever did.
If you do not know how to cook, you are at the mercy of pre-processed foods if you want to eat at home. This stuff is not only expensive but also way less healthy. Make it a point to learn how to cook and save big in 2020. Here are just a few ways that learning to cook can save you big.
Spice Mixes: Things like taco seasoning. I buy spices myself and make my own. A single taco seasoning packet can be up to a dollar. I can make it for 10 cents.
Rice: Buy rice in bulk instead of relying on instant rice.
Mashed Potatoes: Instant potatoes are about $1.50 for 4 servings. Use fresh potatoes and make it for about half of that cost.
Sauces: Instead of buying store bought sauces like sweet and sour sauce or even barbecue sauce, make it yourself. You can customize it to your own taste and save a fortune.
Besides the things above, there are dozens of potential ways to save by making food from scratch. If you currently buy processed meals at the store to cook at home, look up the recipe online. You might be surprised at just what you can do and how much better it will taste. Better taste and a cheaper price, win, win.
5. Save Your Leftovers
As Americans, we waste way too much food. We throw away things that people in other countries would fight for.
Even if you have only a partial serving of a dish left, you should save it. Freeze it for a later meal, snack or re-purpose it in another dish. A leftover hamburger patty can become taco meat or even spaghetti with meat sauce. A half a chicken breast can be the topping for a great salad. There are lots of ways to reuse instead of wasting.
If it gets to the point where the freezer is stocked with leftovers, clear it out with leftover night. Let everyone in the house pick their favorite meal and reheat all of them at once. It is basically a free meal if you were in the habit of tossing all the leftovers.
As you can see by now, there are a lot of simple ways to save money on your grocery bill. If you have a family of four, savings of at least 200 dollars a month can be expected with little work. That’s almost 2500 dollars a year with very little work on your part.