Here’s a hard truth: You are probably spending way too much on food. Of course, food costs money and we all need to eat. But if you know what you’re doing, you can actually eat really well for an affordable price. A grocery budget does not need to equal cheap, unhealthy meals. In this post I’m going to show you how you can get more food for less money with these top 10 frugal food tips for beginners.
TOP 10 FRUGAL FOOD TIPS
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It’s time to get those food costs under control. You can absolutely feed your family for less than you’re spending right now. And it’s not even that hard. Try out these 10 frugal food tips and see how much you can save!
1. COOK YOUR OWN FOOD
The easiest way to save money on food is to make it yourself. The cost of all those restaurant meals, take-out nights, and convenience foods really add up.
Don’t worry, I’m not saying that you can never eat out at restaurants or pick up take-out food again. I just want to suggest that instead of making those things a daily expense we all save them for special occasions and rare treats.
I explain in detail how to get started with cooking your own food and exactly how to break your restaurant habit in the post The Easiest way to Save Money on Food.
2. MAKE EATING AT HOME ENJOYABLE
If you’re used to eating at restaurants all the time, switching to dining at home might be a big shock for you. The key is to make it fun!
Clear off your cluttered table, put some candles out, and make it a place that you look forward to sitting down at.
Start dinner time traditions that your family looks forward to. Make it a special time to connect with your loved ones.
Do it in a way that is enjoyable for you.
The point is that if you like the experience of eating at home you are much more likely to keep doing it.
3. USE INEXPENSIVE INGREDIENTS REGULARLY
This simple tip is one that you don’t want to overlook.
Cooking at home means saving money, but that doesn’t mean that you can cook anything under the sun and it will always be cheap.
By weaving inexpensive ingredients into your meals, you’ll easily cut down the cost. Some examples are brown rice, pasta, frozen veggies, potatoes, or beans.
Advanced tip: Think about the cost of your ingredients on a per serving basis. If you buy a giant bag of frozen veggies and it lasts you 20 meals, you will probably see huge savings.
You should also have a few go-to meals that allow you to make the whole meal cheaply. For example: chili, crockpot soup, stuffed baked potatoes, etc.
This is going to vary based on what what kinds of food you and your family like. Experiment with ingredients and keep a list of the ones that your family likes.
4. USE YOUR FREEZER
This one is huge! Freezers are not just for ice, people!
If you take nothing else away from this post, you just have to start using your freezer.
There are so many ways that your freezer be awesome for your wallet and your time.
You can make freezer meals. This is awesome because you can pull out a freezer meal and cook that for dinner instead of wasting money on take-out or convenience foods.
There are a few easy ways to make freezer meals.
You can double a recipe, like a lasagna. Then, you can have one for dinner tonight and then freeze one to have a meal totally made for you to have for dinner sometime in the future.
Or you can spend an afternoon meal prepping freezer meals, freeze a ton at the same time, and then pull them out as you need them.
Meals in your freezer stay good for a very long time!
There are some awesome cookbooks dedicated to freezer meals. And of course, there’s about ten thousand recipes on Pinterest. Freezer meals are super popular right now. So, if you just start looking for them, you’re going to find a ton!
Here’s a list of 31 super easy freezer meals to get you started.
5. SET A BUDGET – and stick to it!
A grocery budget might not sound super fun. But if you do it right, it can be awesome!
When you have a budget you know how much you’re going to spend each week and you can plan for it.
In this post I walk you through how to figure out the right grocery budget for your family and give you more tips for sticking to it.
Here is the most important thing about having a grocery budget. You have to know how much you are spending when you are in the store!
Don’t put anything in your cart unless you are looking at the price! Keep a running total going in your head (which can be so much easier than it sounds).
Or if you have to, pull out your phone and use the calculator. No one will know what you’re doing on your phone!
6. TRACK PRICES
Being a frugal shopper meals doing what you can to get the best prices.
But how can you know that you are getting the best price? By tracking prices over time of the products you buy more often.
While this one may take a little time, it is so much easier than it sounds! And it is worth is because once you get in the practice of tracking prices, you will actually learn the best price for the products that you buy most often.
Tracking prices will give you confidence in your purchases. It’s a great place to start if you are new to frugal shopping.
Learn everything you need to know about tracking prices HERE.
7. PLAN AHEAD
You have to go into the grocery store with a plan. Otherwise, the last minute ideas and the impulse purchase will get you!
Here is the easiest way to make a smart grocery shopping plan:
- Take a look at the weekly sales and keep those deals in mind.
- Scope out your fridge, freezer, pantry and wherever else you store food. See what you already have and get thinking about how you could use those ingredients. Pay special attention to foods that are going to expire soon.
- With sales and your stock in mind, decide what you’re going to eat in the coming week. This means making a meal plan. If you’re like me and you’ve struggled with meal planning in the past, check out this post for my meal planning solution.
- Make a list of what you need based on meal plan.
This might take you a bit of time at first but once you get into the habit of creating a shopping plan, it’ll be a much quicker process.
8. USE SOME COUPONS
I’m not by any means a couponer. I don’t spend a ton of time searching for coupons and strategizing on using them.
Instead I use a few select coupons in a smart way that saves me money. Here are where my coupons come from:
- My mailbox – Physically coupons that I’m sent from the store because I have a loyalty/rewards card
- Your store’s weekly ad
- Your store’s dedicated coupon book
- The store’s website (these often load directly to your loyalty card)
- The store’s coupon app
That might sound like a lot of places to look for coupons, but I don’t always do all of them. It depends on which store I’m shopping at.
If I’m shopping at Whole Foods, I’m just going to look at their coupon book and coupon app. If I’m at Target I’ll just use their Cartwheel coupon app. And if I’m going to my local grocery store, Stop & Shop, I’ll check out their website, weekly ad, and gather up any physical coupons that I have.
Here is the most important thing about using coupons to save money:
Do not, under any circumstance, ever buy something you don’t need just to use a coupon!
Coupons only save you money if you were going to buy those things anyway.
For all the details of my easy and effective coupon strategy, read How to use Coupons without being Extreme.
9. BUY IN BULK
Shopping in bulk might not seem like it can save you money, but if you do it the right way it can save you a ton!
This doesn’t mean you need to be that lady with the giant jar of mayonnaise and a 10 pound bag of flour (although I’d bet that lady is really saving some money!).
Just buy things that you use frequently in bulk and then use them at the same rate that you normally would. You’ll pay less per item and they will last you longer.
Here are some items to start buying in bulk:
- paper towels
- toilet paper
- garbage bags
- cleaning supplies
- laundry detergent
There are a few different ways that you can bulk shop.
I love Costco. We always get our gas there which saves us a fortune. And Costco has a phenomenal return policy, which is always a plus.
The only drawback is the membership fees. For us, we save more than we spend in membership fees. But you’ll want to carefully consider if the cost is worth it for your family.
Boxed is another great bulk shopping option. Boxed lets you shop for bulk-sized household items online. Your purchase is delivered for free and you don’t have to pay any membership fees.
Bonus: If you sign up for Boxed with this link, you’ll get $15 off your first order.
10. GROW YOUR OWN FOOD
By far, the best way to save money on fresh produce is to grow it yourself.
Growing your own food is good for your finances and your health. And as an added bonus, it can be a really fun activity to do with your kids.
Gardening benefits your emotional health, as well. Working hard on something with purpose and literally reaping what you sow can have a huge calming effect on your mind and leave you with a serious feeling of accomplishment.
Start small with just a corner of your yard devoted to a garden. You can keep expanding on it each year as your gardening skills evolve.
Don’t have a yard? No worries! You’ll be amazed at how much you can grow on your deck or patio. Even an apartment balcony can be enough for a hanging tomato plant and some herbs.
Here are some resources to get you started with your frugal garden from Family Food Garden.
SAVE MONEY WITH THESE FRUGAL FOOD TIPS
Start implementing these frugal food tips into your weekly routine and you’re sure to see some significant savings.
Cooking your own food with simple ingredients and making eating at home enjoyable will have a huge impact on your food spending. Using your freezer more often will save you a ton in food waste and prep time.
Shopping smarter with a plan, a budget, some coupons, and a price tracker will definitely slash your grocery costs. And going the extra mile to buy in bulk or grow your own garden will just be the savings gravy on top!
You can significantly lower your family’s food costs just by sticking to these simple tips!
Psst… Want to save even more? Hop on my email list here. It’s my favorite place to give you money saving tips and insights that I just don’t share anywhere else. Plus you’ll get lots of free financial tools just for signing up.