Jul 102010
 

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…

  8 Responses to “10 Ways to Save Money on Groceries – Eat Cheap and Healthy”

  1. The other thing about saving money on groceries: saving money takes time. If you’re in a hurry, you can’t save money at the grocery store — it takes time to clip coupons, compare what prices, and figure out how to save money.

  2. Thanks for your tips on these ways to save money on groceries!

    I’ve been loving the $1 bags of older fruit and veggies at our local fruit and veggie store. We don’t buy produce at the grocery store – it’s way too expensive there. Instead, we shop at the small produce markets…and I always head straight for those bags of reduced fruits and veggies.

    And, we buy meat in bulk and full chickens instead of pieces.

  3. I save quite a bit of money by just shopping every two weeks and doing a meal plan. I initially just did it to save gas money, since we’re about 20 minutes from the store, but I was surprised at how easy it was to stay in budget that way! Meal planning is nice because you can plan multiple meals using the same ingredients. For instance, one thing I’ll do is make roast chicken and I will roast two chickens. We eat most of one for dinner (family of 4) and then I remove and chop the rest of the meat. That will then stretch for usually at least 3 more meals like fried rice, curry, chicken teriyaki, etc. And buying chicken whole is usually the cheapest way to do it!

  4. Half the amount of meat… that reminds me of all the controversry around Taco Bell and their “beef”. BTW I love tip #3, yes buy in bulk and get a foodsaver so you can freeze what you can’t finish without worrying about freezer burn.

  5. I love the idea of eating less meat. Meat is not only expensive, it’s far from eco-friendly! By the way, there are so many tasty protein alternatives around, like lentils and beans. Search the internet for Indian recipes and you’ll be amazed at how creative vegetarian cooking can be.

  6. Thanks for your comments, Pamela and Bruce!

    I agree that buying large family portions is a great way to save money on groceries….but boy those huge chunks of meat cost a lot of money. It is cheaper in the long run, if you can afford to pony up the dough right now.

  7. Great tips, Laurie! Another good way to reduce your grocery bill is to buy in larger ‘family’ portions. A individual steak or other meat is more expensive than a pack of 6 or more portions. If you have the freezer space you can repack the portions into reusable freezer bags. Buying a uncut beef tenderloin or other large chunk of meat, then cutting it into individual sizes and freezing will save you a few dollars.

  8. I agree with this one. These are my ways to save on my groceries too. A list, buy in bulk and use coupons.

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