Tuesday, April 6, 2021

20 Ways We Save Money on Food

Our local and national news programs have had several recent stories about the skyrocketing price of food and it doesn't look like costs will come down any time soon.   Here are 20 ways we save money on food in our neck of the woods...

  1. We shop at several stores every week or two to get the best prices.  The 99 Cent Store has great prices on produce and some dry goods (although some of their products are $1 but have been greatly shrunk over the size of the same product at a grocery store so it pays to pay attention to these things).  Asian and Mexican stores have great deals on meat and produce, our military base commissary can have steep discounts on some items, and Costco/Sam's Club are great for buying food in bulk (like rice, canned goods, giant boxes of oatmeal, etc).
  2. I shop ads and usually only buy loss leaders and sale items (when the cashier rings up our groceries even she will say "wow" when the grand total comes out to be less than half of the regular price!). 
  3. I use a store app for a local grocery store and save lots on their app-only deals (one week it might be a loaf of bread for 20 cents or a big bottle of laundry soap for $1 along with many other discounted items each week).
  4. We always compare prices when shopping.  Sometimes there are bulk packages of items that actually cost more than smaller packages of the same items so hubby always uses the calculator on his phone to determine which is the cheapest per ounce.
  5. Also when shopping hubby tallies up the cost of each item as we go through the store so he knows exactly how much we should be paying at checkout.  I've lost count of how many times our groceries didn't add up correctly when we were checking out; sale prices don't register, the app stops working, discount prices aren't loaded into the store's computer...if the cashier doesn't ask for the amount hubby has on his calculator we figure out why and this always saves us money.
  6. We cook most of our meals at home and from scratch.  It's so much cheaper and healthier than eating out at restaurants everyday or buying pre-prepared/highly processed food.
  7. We bring food with us whenever we go out for the day.  Hubby makes and brings coffee with him, we whip up sandwiches or wraps for lunch, and for breakfast, if we have to be out early, we will usually bring homemade granola or breakfast sandwiches with us.  
  8. If we do eat out, it is almost always free (except for the tip).  Hubby gets lots of comps for playing poker so meals in casinos are free and friends and family usually give us restaurant gift cards for birthdays and other occasions so eating out is usually a (free or very cheap) treat.
  9. Our tricks for saving money when eating out include ordering tap water to drink, splitting meals (hubby and I always split meals and usually still have leftovers to take home), never ordering appetizers or desserts (the entrée is probably already more than 1000 calories, tacking on a soda, soup/salad, appetizer and dessert can shoot the calorie load over 5000 which no one needs to eat in one sitting!).
  10. I've broken my bad habit of hitting up the local Starbucks every day.  I got into this habit back when I was working and my coworkers and I would stop by Starbucks almost everyday that we had meetings.  Needless to say, this is an expensive--and unhealthy!--habit.
  11. Occasionally I will use coupons to buy food and household items but I don't do this very often as the coupons are usually for highly processed foods (like Pop Tarts and Hot Pockets...stuff we don't eat).  If they had coupons for flour, sugar, or other staples I would definitely use them!
  12. We don't buy in bulk very much anymore because there are no more kids in the house.  Other than a few staples, like rice and oatmeal which we eat quickly, buying huge quantities usually means some will go bad before we get to eat it.
  13. We shop the discount racks at the grocery store.  The day old bakery rack often has a half dozen croissants or a dozen rolls for $1 which is a great deal and they are still pretty fresh.  The close-to-expiration meat bin can often have great deals as well and our grocery stores usually cut the price on seasonal items the week after major holidays (we have bought several hams and turkeys at deep discounts this way).
  14. We cook in large quantities when we have guests and provide almost all meals at home for them.  Taking guests out to eat would bankrupt us--both because we get a lot of guests and because the restaurants here can be expensive--so we always cook for our guests when they visit.
  15. In general, we cook in family-sized quantities then freeze the leftovers in individual portions.  This is a great way to have instant meals on nights we don't feel like cooking.  In fact, we've kept one of the cousins fed through the entire pandemic this way--each week we take seven servings of frozen meals and deliver them to her!
  16. We try to eat mostly vegetarian/vegan meals as much as possible.  Besides the health benefits, a pound of meat shrinks down to maybe 3/4 pound after cooking while a pound of beans grows exponentially after cooking.
  17. When we do buy meat, hubby freezes it in individual portions so we only unfreeze a small amount of meat at a time.  One steak can provide four or five meals for us!
  18. Each week I clean out our refrigerator, freezer, and pantry and rotate food to make sure nothing expires before we can use it up.  Any little bits of leftovers get turned into things like smoothies (berries, a little spinach, a banana), fried rice (bits of leftover meat and vegetables), soups, etc.
  19. We like free food!  We each signed up for a bunch of restaurant birthday freebies, local restaurants sometimes have freebies (I recently got a free Starbucks drink at our local grocery store with an app coupon, Krispy Cream gave hubby a free donut when he showed is covid vaccine card), and friends invite us to parties where there is always food, etc.
  20. Stuff we don't do but would consider if needed: dumpster diving (many people love to do this), hitting up food pantries or meal programs, shopping discount places like Aldis (we don't have one of these stores in our area unfortunately) or WinCo (we haven't been to this store yet, it is a discounter that takes cash only no credit or debit cards), working at a restaurant in order to get a free meal (I did this all through college and rarely had to buy food this way), gardening (unfortunately we don't have enough yard to do this), etc.


  1. I like the idea of your husband keeping tally as you shop. I dumpster dived and had fine food, nothing spoiled at all. It is amazing what gets thrown out. Often, I got greeting cards and envelopes, flowers so that not all was food. I do some of the same things you do but not all.

    1. I've dumpster dived outside of office buildings--lots of furniture and perfectly good office supplies that people just threw in the trash!

  2. Very good tips- your site always has such useful info!