It sure seems like the cost of groceries are getting higher and higher every year.
I don’t know about you, but magical grocery fairies don’t deliver me food, and unless you raise your own livestock or have an orchard, groceries eat up a good amount of your salary.
Trust me; you’re not alone.
Most people that live in an urban area, like me, pay for absolutely everything they need to cook; from potatoes and onions to parsley and meat. Even for water. Our food budget is what made me start Stacking Pennies in the first place.
That isn’t the case for someone who lives on a farm where ingredients grow abundantly, although they have their own difficulties they deal with.
Making matters worse, in our consumer driven ideology, we are programmed to believe that cheap products are of poor quality. If you want a sure-fire way to hemorrhage your budget, purchase only name brands. Thankfully, buying some obscure brand of peas does not make those peas any less tasty or nutritious, but it will make a difference in your budget.
Changing your mindset on food
“But what can I do if I can’t resist the urge?”
That’s just an excuse. You must change your mentality. Urges are there to be fought, and frugality is there to be embraced. Especially when you have children to feed.
But what does it mean to be frugal when it comes to grocery shopping? Many Americans save on everything else but food and don’t want to hear about being parted of their favorite meals. May the sky fall and the earth end, but at least they’ll kick the bucket with a full stomach.
The answer is simple. Live like you have nothing. Spend like you have nothing. Because quite frankly, you don’t. There are people who earn too little, to begin with, so they can’t afford to be too picky. You are one of them, so live like them.
Saving money on Groceries
Alright, so what can do to take action and start saving money on groceries. I took some time and made an action plan for my family, and I’m sharing it here for you to use as well.
- Make a list: One of the biggest mistakes you can make is going to the grocery store without a plan of what you need to buy. First, plan out your meals. Then carefully jot down the ingredients, or else you’ll find yourself in an aisle, wondering if you forgot anything. A list makes it easier to buy the necessary ingredients, and those only, and it also makes it easier to budget.
- Find products with that are expiring: Most supermarkets have reduced prices for products on items that expire in 2-3 days. These are sold at a fraction of the normal If it is meat, that’s fantastic – you can store it in the freezer for weeks, and it won’t go bad. Dairy products, salami, fish, and meat – they can all be found in there, so it would be a pity not to take advantage of this opportunity.
- Farmer markets: The great advantage of shopping in farmer markets is the low prices, considerably lower than those you’d pay for the same products in supermarkets. Also, it is less likely that they’ve been treated with so many chemicals and growth factors that wreak havoc on your body. The best time to do this is when the market is on the verge of closing at the end of each day.
- Bruised produce: It’s OK to eat bruised veggies and fruit. And they’re usually significantly marked down.
- Eliminate junk food: If you have a weakness for chips and sodas, it’s time you annihilate it. Not only are they noxious, but also pricey. You could spend less money by purchasing a lot of vegetables or fruits. Vitamins! Plus they keep you full longer.
- Whole chickens: Learn to filet a chicken and save every usable part. You can put together at least three or four meals with just one large chicken. A whole chicken is often cheaper than pre-packaged, and you can use the meat in salads, pot pies, and stews. Don’t throw the bones – make soup or a pilaf.
- “Vegetarian week”: Refrain from eating meat for an entire week. It’s not as hard as it sounds and it’s good for your health. Use all the vegetables in the freezer for soups and stews or curries.
- Save orange peels: Grind it and store it in a jar. You can use it for giving your pancakes a terrific exotic flavor, as well as in flavoring cookies.
- Cheap recipes: The Internet is full of websites and blogs dedicated to frugal recipes that require minimal funds.
- Hunt for offers and promotions: These are marketing techniques that are advantageous both to the stores and you. You can find some mind-blowing offers sometimes – when you do, make sure that you fill up your freezer and your pantry. There are people who live solely on the food they buy on offers.
- Coupon binder: Use a binder and start to collect the offers and promotions listed above. Almost every store has routine specials. Keep an eye on them and don’t throw those mailings in the trash. By tracking them, you will begin to learn when a big sale is coming and plan accordingly.
- Hunt: If you have a firearms license, you can hunt your own Rabbits, boar and partridges have excellent meat. However, pay attention to the regulations and don’t ever hunt endangered species or those that are protected by law.
- Buying online: Don’t scoff at this. Online shops are competing with physical brick and mortar supermarkets, and several of them have better prices to lure in customers. I’ll probably post my thoughts on a few of them in a later post.
- Gardening: Start a small garden and plant some seeds. You won’t have to pay for vegetables anymore, and you can store them in the freezer to have them fresh during the winter, when the prices for tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and other greens sky-rocket.
- Buy in bulk: This is particularly recommended for meat. You can chop it up yourself and store it in the freezer for future meals. Buying in bulk is usually coupled with good discounts. TIP: When you get home, separate your meat into pre-proportioned Ziploc-type bags, then use a roller to flat them out (this especially works with ground beef). This makes your meet stackable and maximizes storage space in the freezer, and also allows you take out one pre-proportioned bag at a time to use.
- Fidelity points: Check your area for supermarkets that award their faithful customers with points they can use for discounts each time they shop there again. Make sure you get a card and present it whenever you go shopping for groceries, so the points add up.
- Don’t waste anything: Why would you throw leftover vegetables in the trash when you can store them for future use? After you take the meat off the bones, boil them in a pot for a delicious soup. There are countless uses for coffee grounds, from shoe deodorant to natural fertilizer. It’s a form of recycling.
- Cook in large batches: How do caterers make money? They purchase and cook in batches. It’s OK to eat the same thing twice in a week. It’s OK to freeze the rest for another week.
- Buy only what you need: Are you accustomed to a pantry and fridge constantly stuffed with food? Cut it out. Your refrigerator and pantry should have enough items to eat for that week, not a month.
- Don’t shop on an empty stomach: It sounds stupid, but it works. When you’re hungry, every food item appears attractive, so it becomes harder to stick to the list you’ve made at home.
Stop wasting groceries
We spend a huge amount of money on food and for no good reason. It’s even more tragic considering that we throw half of it away. Thankfully, steps are being made towards reducing food waste.
It’s been estimated that over 70 billion pounds worth of food is wasted in the U.S. each year. That would be enough to feed tens of thousands of people, if not hundreds of thousands.
For instance, France has recently (2016) banned the waste of food by supermarkets, which threw away tons of food annually. Instead of doing that, the unsold food is donated to charities.
Shopping frugally ensures that you won’t throw much away because you won’t have a lot of extras in your fridge or pantry to replace it with. It’s impossible to do that once you’ve bought only what will last the week.
Did you notice the health benefits of the list above? Fruits, veggies, soups, protein, etc. Bonus!
At this point, it looks like frugality is becoming more and more of a trend, and it will continue to rise in popularity from year to year. In my opinion, this is one of the greatest things that has happened in the 21st century.
The Frugal conclusion
There is no doubt that small fortunes can be saved on food. If we limit ourselves to only what is necessary to have in our fridges, we can live healthier lives.
The body doesn’t need $100 restaurant delicacies to function properly. The richest nutrients and the most crucial vitamins are found even in the cheapest ingredients one can find.
Fruits, oats, vegetables and meat – their prices vary, but their quality seldom does. And there isn’t a great contrast between famous brands and no name ones.
Not knowing exactly what to buy, buying overpriced things for the sake of “quality,” and buying more than we need at one time deals a tremendous blow to our pockets.I no longer spend money on junk food,
I no longer spend money on junk food, I don’t order very often and, and all in all, I love cooking my own food. At least I know what is in my meals and this new way of living is convenient for my wallet.
What are some things that you do to save money on groceries?