Food represents a big fraction of most households’ monthly budgets. When people suddenly find themselves in financial difficulties, the food budget is the first to decrease because they immediately eliminate eating out expenses and start preparing all their meals at home. This, of course, results in considerable savings. But, when you need to start a really frugal living, there is much more you can do to save on food expenses.
Save Money By Smart Grocery Shopping
Saving money on groceries can be a great way to lower your expenses and allocate the money to a better use while at the same time paying more attention to what you eat. So, here are the best tips for saving money on groceries to get you started with a frugal food budget.
First of all, you have think about what combination of ingredients will allow you to have healthy, varied meals on a budget. The best advice here is to choose a few cheap staple foods for most of your satiation and chose a few splurges to add variety, flavor, and nutrition to your menu. Great staple foods are pastas, rice, quinoa, and legumes like beans and lentils, because they are pretty cheap, easy to store and cook, they are filling and they can often be found on discounts. Whenever your budget permits and you come across a great deal on one of these items you should definitely stock up on it. That way you will definitely be saving money on groceries over time. It’s worth noting that most of these foods are really healthy too, especially the quinoa and legumes.
Now let’s focus on the “splurges” and how you can incorporate them in your menus while still saving money on groceries. When it comes to food, herbs, organic vegetables and fruits, good quality meat, and seafood are all considered to be splurges when you look at price to quantity ratios. However, many argue they are well worth the price because of the flavors and health benefits they provide. Herbs like parsley, basil, thyme, mint, chives, oregano and others are a great addition to many meals – for example, a teaspoon of basil can really elevate any plate of pasta. And they have powerful health benefits too. But also they can be really expensive if you buy them from the supermarket.
When it comes to herbs, and even certain fruits and vegetables, the most cost-efficient thing you could do is to grow them yourself. Growing your own herbs, cherry tomatoes, onions, beans and other fruits and vegetables is very cost-efficient because the seeds, containers, and compost all together cost just a few dollars per type of plant. It doesn’t take up a lot of space at all to have a few windowsill containers for herbs and a few larger ones for fruits and vegetables of your choice. A lot of people, both living in houses with backyards and in apartment buildings with no balconies, have already realized the benefits from growing these plants and they are sharing their experience and advice online, so it wouldn’t be hard to learn what you need to know about gardening. And there is no better way to be saving money on groceries than to grow your own organic herbs, fruits, and vegetables.
If you do not have the room to grow your own vegetables and herbs, a good way to get them at a good price would be to find a local farmer’s market or a few local farmers who will let you pick what you need, at a better price than what you would find at the grocery store. Many farmers already have small stands set up directly on their farms for produce that they have picked already and there is also a good chance that they have more than produce available to be purchased.
Regarding fruits and vegetables, a great way to save money on these ingredients is to buy frozen ones. Frozen peas, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach and vegetable mixes are very easy to prepare and incorporate into most meals. They will add much-needed variety to a plain pot of rice, quinoa, or pasta. And, even though they are not fresh, they still contain a lot of their nutrients. Similarly, canned fish of any kind can be really healthy and nutritious, like canned tuna in water. Frozen vegetables are much cheaper than fresh ones, and canned fish is long-lasting and easy to store so, it is possible (and worth it) to stock up when it’s greatly discounted. Thus, if you really want to be saving money or groceries, you should substitute meat with discounted canned fish and most fresh vegetables and fruits with frozen ones – but you can still use your favorite fresh vegetables and herbs for a really low cost if you grow them in your own garden.
One way my family saves money on groceries is to have lots of freezer space for storage. I have a small chest freezer and two smaller refridgerator/freezer combos. I have lots of fresh veggies and fruits stored in there, meat of all kinds, fish, poultry and quick things for when we are busy and need to save time on cooking. You can buy large amounts of anything that is on sale, put it into useable quantities and freeze it for later. One example is hamburger meat of any kind. I buy the giant packages when it is on sale, take it home and make as many smaller packages as I can for freezing. I typically use it to make Bolognese Sauce and know that I use about 300 grams at a time. Other people might get the same package and make as many meat patties as they can, figure out how many they would need to feed their families on any given night and separate by the number of patties and put them in the freezer.
Fresh meats and produce are not the only thing I freeze to save time and money. As I stated earlier that I use hamburger to make Bolognese Sauce, I make enough sauce for three to four meals. That goes for normal sauce without meat as well which I would use for Lasagna. If I make a batch of Lasagna Sauce, I will make a double batch and freeze whatever I don’t use making the Lasagna. Also, many people set one day aside just to cook things that, they can take with them to work and put it in the freezer. They might spend an entire day cooking large quantities of different foods just for this purpose.
Two examples of something we like to do in this area are mini-burritos and cassaroles. Both of these things are great as time saving meals or snacks later. You can also do this with Quiches, Muffins, Cakes, Waffles, Pancakes…pretty much everything you can think of can be pre-made and frozen in small batches. Not only does it save you lots of time thoughout your week or month, but it also gives you the chance to have a larger variety of foods throughout a week. Any time you cook and have left-overs, put them in the freezer if, you will not be taking them for lunch the next day. I hope this article has given you enough ideas to get you started saving money on groceries!