Budgeting for food can be difficult. And we all would like to save a little money in this area, right? So here are my five ways to save on food. They are quick and simple. And, you don’t need to clip coupons (because who has time for that?!?)
Take a look and see what you could implement this week to save a little cash!
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1. Meal Plan
Meal planning is my number one way to save money on food (find my method for meal planning here). If all you can do is meal plan, you will still save money on your grocery budget!
Meal planning really helps with staying on track throughout the week and keeping a budget. I absolutely LOVE meal planning! I know it can sound overwhelming or like a chore, but once you make it a habit, it becomes really helpful, and even enjoyable. Maybe you’re not a natural-born planner… that’s okay, too! Even if you just write out three meals that you plan to make for each week and not assign them to a specific night, it will still help with keeping you on budget and you don’t have to lose the spontaneity you love.
Start by looking in your fridge for ingredients that you need to use, then look through your local sale papers to finish up your shopping list. As you choose meals to make, write them down in a calendar (or just on a piece of paper) and keep it somewhere visible throughout the week (like on a magnet on your fridge). I like to use this little wire-bound calendar. I write out each meal for each day that I’m planning to make that week.
Then, when you go shopping, ONLY buy what you’ve written on your list. If this is difficult for you, then consider shopping using an online delivery service like Instacart. Or, most grocers now have their own version of grocery pickup/delivery so that you don’t have to go through the store yourself and be tempted to buy more than what’s on your list. For a detailed method of meal planning, see my post here.
2. Meal Prep
Once you’ve meal planned for the week, look at your meals and see if there are any steps you can do ahead of time. For example, if you’re making roast chicken with vegetables, and salad on the side, you can cut up all the veggies for the chicken hours (or even a day or two) beforehand and have them ready to throw in with your chicken instead of having to cut it all up at the same time that you’re getting the chicken ready.
As a mom at home, this is crucial for me. I love to prepare as much as possible while my baby is napping throughout the day, then I don’t have to try to do everything for a meal during the witching, 4-6PM hours. This will also save you money because you can avoid buying pre-cut vegetables and pre-made, boxed food at the store. And with the ingredients ready in the fridge, you won’t need to get take out.
3. Eat Leftovers
This kind of goes with meal planning, but eat your leftovers! We have at least one night a week where we only eat leftovers for dinner. This saves so much money for us and it’s also nice to have the night off from cooking. As you make meals throughout the week, save what’s leftover then have a smorgasbord of all the leftovers to heat up for dinner. Occasionally, if there’s not enough food left over, I’ll make a salad or side dish to go along with what’s left. But, the goal is to not have leftovers that end up being thrown away, because that’s like throwing away money!
4. Use Your Phone
I know we could probably all spend less time on our phones, but they are a great tool to save money on groceries. There are three apps that I mainly use, Ibotta, Krazy Coupon Lady, and local store apps.
This app gives you cash back for sending in pictures of your receipts. You choose deals for specific stores, and then when you take a picture of your receipt, you can cash out the deals for money in the form of gift cards. If you haven’t used this app before, join my team here! This is a great app for healthy ingredients too. They often have deals for organic items or for any item in a certain category (for example, “apples”). And, they almost always have a 10-25 cent coupon just for sending in your receipt. Join my team here!
Krazy Coupon Lady
Why spend all day trying to find items you need/want when amazing deals are found for you? That’s what this app does. The Krazy Coupon Lady has an app where you can select stores you shop at and see deals for in a newsfeed style. Sometimes the deals she finds are more intense where you have to print several coupons and combine that with the store’s sale to get a good deal, but overall it’s very helpful. There’s often deals for free or almost free items. I always look through the app before my weekly grocery shopping to make sure I’m not missing a free deal! You can also read all her information in blog form here.
Local Store Apps
Finally, see if your local grocer has its own app. I live in Southern California and almost all of the grocery stores around me have their own app for sales and coupons. Many times if you have a loyalty card or rewards account with the store, you can select your coupons straight from the app and then they are applied to your transaction when you use your rewards card at checkout. I live across the street from Ralph’s and I use their app all the time to get good deals and cheaper prices.
5. Don’t Eat Out!
This is probably the hardest tip of them all! I know it’s so much easier to get fast food or go to a restaurant for dinner, but it is always more expensive than cooking your dinner at home! Even fast food nowadays can be $7-$8 per person. Whereas a home cooked meal can cost a little more than $1 per person… that’s a big difference!
Take the time to cook at home and you’ll save a bunch. Enlist your spouse to help you and you can even make it a fun activity.
Okay, those are my tips to help us all save a little money. But, how do YOU save money on food? Do you meal plan or use coupons? Let me know!