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10 ways I save money on food

February 5th, 2007 at 06:09 pm

None of these items are new ideas or rocket-science, but maybe they will help someone, or stir up other ideas.

10 ways I save money on food (in no particular order)

1. Meal planning – I plan my meals a month at a time. This is a bit time consuming when I do this at the end of the month, but I think in the end it does save me time. I have been doing this for 4 months now and it seems to be getting faster since I use a few of the same meals each month. Of course the monthly meals are flexible depending on what comes up during the month and what may be on sale that week. This saves me money by not going to the store every few days – instead I go once a week. I would like to stretch that to one big trip every two weeks, but I haven’t got myself that organized yet.
2. Watch weekly store ads. I watch the weekly ads for sale items and stock up on stuff I use often.
3. I normally buy the store brand (with a few exceptions)– not name brands so coupons don’t do me much good. I will use an occasional coupon if I come across something I normally buy, but I don’t go out of my way to get a Sunday paper to stock up on coupons I won’t use anyway.
4. I don’t buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts. If I need a chicken breast I will buy the pieces with the bone and skin. I don’t really enjoy taking the bone and skin off (yuck!), but there is a huge price difference between the two types – especially if it is on sale. I also try to use dark meat pieces in some recipes – even cheaper.
5. I get my beef for free. My family (who are farmers) gives us a side of beef every Christmas. This is great for the budget, but not so good for the waistline since we end up eating red meat for dinner 3-5 times a week.
6. Eat leftovers! I try not to throw out any food - It feels like I am just throwing money away if I have to do this. I can normally finish up leftovers by bringing my lunch to work.
7. Soup. Once a week I make a big pot of soup. Soup is very economical to begin with and usually pretty healthy. On Saturday I made a vegetable beef soup using free beef (steaks that had been sitting in our freezer for a year), leftover veggies, leftover V8 tomato juice, and a few other items I had on-hand. It was wonderful! I freeze individual portions for my DH’s lunches – a lot cheaper than buying a packaged soup, meal or eating out.
8. Freeze meals – I don’t do the extreme once-a-month or once-a-week cooking. I tried it and it just didn’t work with two little ones running around the kitchen all day. However, I will try to make a little extra of my casserole or whatever I am making to put a meal in the freezer. Last night we had meatloaf. The recipe stated it would make 8 servings – we have 2 adults and 2 kids that don’t each much. Instead of making one loaf I split it into two and froze the second one. I now have 1 meal for March ready to go without much more additional expense – all I need is a side dish. I also freeze individual cookie-dough balls for quick fresh baked cookies – much cheaper than the pre-packaged stuff. (This also doesn’t help my waistline since I end up eating the cookie balls straight from the freezer)
9. Drinks – I try not to spend a lot of money on drinks. We don’t buy popsoda unless it is super-cheap. I also buy the girls frozen concentrated juice instead of the ready-made juice.
10. Make more things from scratch. This is a new one for me this year – I have been making brownies or cakes from scratch instead of a mix. I have also made a few quick breads, biscuits and muffins. I need to research how to make things a little healthier – maybe using whole wheat flour.

That’s my list – hopefully it will help someone. Any other tips?

7 Responses to “10 ways I save money on food”

  1. JanH Says:

    Sounds like good ideas! I want to try to use the bread outlet more, but it is in the next town. We don't seem to use up bread as much and it goes to waste so I would like to pay less for it. I've been trying to menu plan more, also. I think it would be terrific if we could go two weeks without a grocery run!

  2. boomeyers Says:

    I would be snacking on the frozen dough too! :-)
    When I am baking from scratch, I always try to add something a little healthy, like flaxseed to the mix. The family never knows it is there!

  3. jriessel Says:

    I have recently discovered the bread outlet also. It is not in a real convienent place so I try to hit it whenever I am on that side of town.

  4. Frayed Buckeye Card Says:

    This message is for Jan. Since I'm not a blogger I don't know how else to do it. Only keep out as much bread as you will use quickly and freeze the rest. Actually, sandwiches packed for lunch, use frozen bread to chill all ingredients. Both ideas work quite well.

  5. jersey jen Says:

    right on, sister!

  6. daylily Says:

    Can you explain how you do #4 and still manage to get something that looks like the boneless, skinless breasts that they sell in the store.

  7. baselle Says:

    Another tip I have is to have exit strategies - dishes and salads that I can make when the produce gets a little bit old. It shouldn't be too old, I don't eat compost! I love to roast them with a little bit of butter or olive oil. I especially like roasted vegetables with tahini sauce. Cauliflower, carrots, broccoli work well. In the summer, I make gazpacho.

    Also, it helps to visualize the dishes that you can make as you buy something. Its so simple as to be stupid, but it does prevent the mindless buying.

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