Saving money on healthy meal ingredients can be a challenge. Coupons are few and far between on things like meat, cheese and veggies. So how do you maximize your budget without resorting to beans and rice? Here are my top tips.
Be Loyal to Stores That Give Consistently Good Deals
Find stores that offer good prices on most everything (even the stuff that isn’t on sale), and give them most of your business. Stores like Kroger that offer huge savings on a few items, and grossly overprice the rest will end up saving you less – even with all the extra effort of coupon clipping, and planning meals around the sales. I’ve tried it! For the long haul, it is best to reward the stores with the best pricing plans with the majority of your business.
Visit the Farmers Market
Buying in-season produce straight from the source is often the best way to score a deal. My biggest savings has come when I spend some time getting to know my favorite vendors, and ask about peak-season bulk discounts. If you’re willing to do some canning or freezing, this relationship will pay off for years to come!
Reduce Food Waste
I’ve written a lot lately about food waste, mostly because it is the biggest money drainer on the American grocery budget. According to the EPA, we waste as much as 20% of what we bring home from the grocery store. So being mindful of what we have, and when it expires is not something I want to take lightly. Follow a meal plan that includes snacks and beverages to shrink your waste. Be sure to include leftovers into the plan when appropriate.
Make More Items From Scratch
Did you know a loaf of bread costs around $0.60 to make? Or that you can use dried beans and get 6 cups for $1? Did you know you can substitute expensive pre-made cereal for oats at around one-third the cost? Get into the habit of making a few frequently eaten things from scratch, and save as much as $10 per week or more!
Ditch the Drinks
I am a sucker for a sweet beverage. Especially with my meals. But I have seen such a huge savings by opting for water – not to mention the calories I save! When I do have a hankering for something sweet, I go for something homemade and affordable, like a big batch of sweet tea!
Let Your Family In On The Plan
I can’t tell you how many times I have attempted to make a meal, and then discovered I am missing ingredients because some hungry teenager decided to eat them as a snack! Posting my meal plan in an obvious place, and letting my family know they are accountable to it has helped save money and my sanity!
How about you? What routines help you save money on food?