I’m excited to share these ten ways to save money on groceries because they helped us pay our mortgage within six years! These tips for eating cheap and healthy are from us — a frugal married couple who is now happily ensconced in a new home.
We plan to pay off our new mortgage in six years….and believe me, setting and achieving financial goals requires paying attention to even the smallest financial details!
Before my money saving tips, a quip:
“Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale.
Not having money won’t hold you back from pursuing your dreams and goals — but if you can’t take care of your basic needs (food, shelter, clothing), you can’t go far in life!
If you need recipes to help you save money on food, read Eat Well Spend Less: Over 250 Healthy Recipes for Busy Cooks Who Want to Save Money.
And, here are my 10 tips for saving money on groceries…
How to Eat Cheap and Healthy – and Save Money on Groceries
1. Activate two money saving tips a month. This is one of my best tips for saving money because we see smart ways to save money everywhere – the internet, budget books, our rich old aunts, on placemats at funky restaurants. But, do we actually apply them to our lives? Nope. It’s too much. So we need to be strategic about the money saving tips. For instance, don’t try to implement all these ways to save money on groceries at once; instead pick one two a month. Focus on making those two money tips a habit. In a month or six weeks, find one two more money saving tips to work on. This way, you’re not overwhelmed with a million ways to save money on groceries – and you’re steadily progressing towards your financial goals.
Okay, on to the specific ways to save money on groceries…
2. Halve the amount of meat you use. Add filler (oats, crackers, rice, mashed potatoes) to your burgers, meatballs, or meat loave. This way, you’ll half the amount of ground beef, chicken, or pork. Instead of bbq’ing a steak or chicken breast, cut half of one portion into strips and put it into a stirfry. Nobody will notice there’s not a full portion of meat in the stirfry (but they will notice a half portion of meat on a plate!).
2. Rotisserie or bake a chicken or pot roast on Sunday night. We’ll rotisserie a chicken or roast on the BBQ, and then use the meat for meals all week: sandwiches for lunch, stir fries for dinner, etc. Meat can be a very expensive way to feed your family — and shopping for sales and cutting coupons can be time-consuming. Instead, save money on groceries by reducing the amount of meat you eat. And remember that a normal food portion can fit into the palm of your hand — it’s the size of a deck of cards.
3. Buy and cook bulk foods – it’s both cheap and healthy! “Joining a bulk shopping club, like Sam’s, Costco, or BJ’s, can be cost-effective if you frequent the club regularly,” writes Kathleen Zelman in 10 Ways to Save Money on Food Shopping. “Bulk purchases can be a great way to save money — as long as they get used. You might also look in your community for shopping cooperatives that sell food in bulk at a substantial savings.” Cooking in bulk can save both money and time, if you prepare huge pots of, say, spaghetti sauce, and freeze it in individual portions.
4. Savor your leftovers. I don’t understand why people don’t like leftovers! Most of the time, leftover food is tastier than when it was first cooked. The flavors have had a chance to meld into a sweet symphony of music in your mouth! If you want to save money on groceries, do not throw anything away (unless it’s so old it doesn’t look like food anymore). I use my leftover rice, mashed potatoes, or stir fry veggies in soups or stews. I eat leftover pizza and potato salad for breakfast. I refuse to cook new dishes until we’ve eaten our leftovers. These little things don’t just help you save money on groceries, they teach you to be creative in the kitchen!
5. Freeze your leftovers — even your milk and cookies. My husband travels on business regularly, and he’s the primary consumer of coffee cream, cookies, and meat in our house. When he leaves, I freeze his cream, cheddar cheese, leftover meat, etc., until he gets home. Anything can be frozen! If the food doesn’t thaw well — such as rice — it can be added to soups or stews.
6. Make your own dressings and sauces. We don’t use dressings on our salads; instead, we sprinkle sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and raisons on top. It’s cheap, healthy, and tasty! I make my own BBQ sauce — much more delicious than store bought — and my hubby makes cocktail sauce for shrimp and bean dip for our weekly Mexican Fiesta night. Have fun making your own dips and sauces – it’s a great way to save money on groceries.
7. Yes, I said weekly “Mexican Fiesta Night.” Do you have a food theme night? For Mexican Fiesta, my hubby makes bean dip (cheap and healthy), and I make pea guacamole (avocado, canned or frozen peas, corn, tomatos, garlic, onions — it’s my favorite dish). Having a planned food night — Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Middle Eastern — is a great way to save money on groceries, especially if you experiment with different (cheaper) ingredients. In fact, pre-planning your entire week’s menu can help you save money by reducing impulse meals in restaurants.
If you haven’t started thinking about your financial future, read 10 Tips for Achieving Financial Goals – Beyond “Use Cash”. Setting goals is one of the best ways to save money on groceries!
8. Think frozen, canned, or dried. Here’s another great way to save money from Zelman: “Next time you’re gathering ingredients for a recipe, try using frozen, canned, or dried foods. They may be less expensive than fresh, yet are equally nutritious. Produce is typically frozen, canned, or dried at the peak of ripeness, when nutrients are plentiful. Fish and poultry are often flash-frozen to minimize freezer damage and retain freshness. With frozen foods, you can use only the amount you need, reseal the package, and return it to the freezer. If it’s properly stored, there’s no waste. Canned foods are often sitting in a bath of juice, syrup, or salty water, and usually require rinsing. Dried fruits are concentrated in flavor and a great substitute for fresh fruit. Also consider using powdered or evaporated versions of milk in soups, casseroles, mashed potatoes, or desserts. Buy the form that gives you the best price for your needs.”
9. Experiment with eggs — omelettes, fritattas, quiches. The high cholesterol scare is over! There’s no need to fear eggs — as long as you don’t eat them every day. Eggs are a great source of protein, and much cheaper than meat. Plus, Canadian researchers say eggs may reduce high blood pressure. So, make it a habit to cook an eggy dinner once a week: frittatas, lazy man’s quiches, omelettes, French Toast with Canadian bacon (can you tell I’m a Canuck?). Eggs are cheap, healthy, and delicious.
10. Stay focused on your reasons for saving money on groceries. Why do you want to save your buckeroos — what are your long-term financial goals? Keep your goals front and center: write them on your forehead if you have to. It’s much easier to eat cheap and healthy if you stay focused on why you’re eating cheap and healthy. If you keep your goals right in front of you, you won’t feel like you’re depriving yourself of “fun” stuff like eating in restaurants (which isn’t nearly as adventurous as making sushi at home!).
Have you tried to visualize saving more money? Read Money and the Law of Attraction – 4 Ways to Attract Wealth.
How do you save money on groceries? I welcome your tips (and questions) below…
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello below - I can't give relationship advice, but writing can bring you clarity and insight.