Everyone has been impacted by the skyrocketing cost of food lately. Here are ways to cut costs on the grocery budget. I’m writing to myself as much as anyone else on this one!
Contentment is key here. Save fancy, rich, expensive foods, or meals with great variety, for special occasions and holidays.
Not only is it a whole lot cheaper, it’s healthier. For special occasions, try fruity herbal teas.
Don’t Eat Out
Add up how much you spend on eating out for one month. You’ll probably be shocked.
Meat is expensive. Contrary to popular opinion, you won’t succumb to a terrible malady if you don’t have meat every day (although teenaged boys and men seem to have a genuine physical need for meat more often than the rest of us). Try non-meat protein alternatives like beans and rice, eggs, and moderate amounts of cheese. When you do eat meat, go for inexpensive things like chicken. Have red meat once a week or on special occasions.
Have a Bean Day
When I still lived at home with my parents and my family was having to pinch pennies every way we could, we instituted Saturday Bean Day. We cooked a huge stock pot of pinto beans with onion and chili powder. Sometimes we added some cheese or browned ground beef at the end. We served it with homemade cornbread. Then we ate leftovers through the week as burritos, nachos, or just plain beans. Our Saturday friends ate a lot of beans with us! Monday is often bean day at our house now, but I cook red beans and rice.
Cook From Scratch
Prepackaged foods cost an arm and a leg. Compare the price between, say, homemade chicken salad and deli sandwich meat. Or homemade vegetable soup and Campbell’s chunky from the can. Or homemade bread and store bought. The homemade versions usually taste a lot better too.
Make Your Own Snacks
Make cookies, don’t buy them. Muffins, granola, and popcorn are all good, relatively inexpensive snacks you can make at home.
Buy in Bulk
Be careful though, bulk isn’t always cheaper. Compare prices at places like Sam’s Club. I miss the whole foods co-op I was part of in Shreveport. Let me know if you hear of anything like that locally!
Use Store Brands
Except for things that really taste that much better, use the store brand. It’s sometimes half the price.
I don’t do this as much as I should, but if something is drastically cheaper at one store than another, sometimes it’s worth the extra stop. These days we have to factor in gas prices too, though.
I recently started a pricebook to keep track of what items cost at different stores, but I think a spreadsheet would be more effective. I’ll let you know if it works.
Self-explanatory. I don’t do this as much as I should either.
If you have the time and man power, a garden can save lots of cash. I hope that a big garden will be part of our food source one day. Right now that’s not possible, but as our kids get bigger it will be a more practical option.
(picture: Breakfast Under the Apple Tree by Swedish artist Carl Larsson)