Today I am going to share my picks for the top 5 ways to reduce your food bill. With inflation, many families are seeing an increase in their overall grocery bill each month and, understandably, are looking for ways to keep costs down. Here are a few ideas that have helped me:
1. Plan Your Meals and Stick to Your Plan
Meal planning is the number one way that I save money on groceries. By knowing what meals will be each week, I only buy the things to make those meals and this helps to eliminate impulse buying.
I typically plan out meals for a month to a quarter at a time. This includes breakfasts, lunches, dinner, and most snacks.
For breakfasts and lunches, the kids and I choose their favorites (about 8 or 9 choices) and then I simply rotate those every week for a full quarter (three months). Here’s an example of what that might look like for breakfasts:
- Mondays – Muffins, turkey bacon
- Tuesdays – Scrambled eggs, toast, or breakfast burrito
- Wednesdays Pancakes
- Thursdays – fresh fruit, yogurt, hard-boiled eggs
- Fridays -cinnamon toast and fruit smoothie
- Saturdays – oatmeal/cereal
- Sundays – breakfast casserole
This menu will repeat every week for three months. It’s the same for lunches and snacks. I make posters in Canva with the menu for each week’s meal or snacks and then these get posted on the fridge for easy reference and stay up till the next quarter. I love this approach because my kids never have to wonder what they will eat for their daytime meals and snacks and it requires minimal effort from me!
*** NOTE *** From time to time, we might do something different if we are all bored or in the mood for something else, but not that often. The plans are made with good variety and the kids seem happy to not have to make a decision each day. I think the key to success with this is having them be a part of the planning process.
2. Reduce your food bill: Learn to Cook and Bake from Scratch
I know, I know, this takes more time! But, it WILL save you money!
I’ve learned to make all kinds of things from scratch- chicken nuggets, breaded chicken strips, french fries, bread, bagels, English muffins, various styles of pizza, restaurant favorites like KFC Famous bowls, Taco-bell style crunch wrap supremes, Chinese dumplings, our favorite sub sandwiches from our home state in Michigan, and more.
Learning to cook things from scratch can be fun and it cuts down on how much you spend on processed convenient foods. My family has often said that they prefer my homemade meals to the processed stuff because it tastes better and doesn’t have all the icky ingredients that lots of those foods have.
3. Reduce your consumption of animal products
I try to include at least 2 meals per week that are plant-based, but even in the rest of our meals, we are learning to use fewer animal products overall. Meat, dairy, and egg prices have skyrocketed over the last two years.
We do have chickens, which supply most of our eggs now. But I am always on the hunt for recipes that use minimal animal products but are still big on flavor. We use a lot of beans in recipes and honestly, we don’t feel like we are missing out at all.
When I make tacos with meat, I bulk it up with beans. Instead of serving whole chicken breasts at a meal, I serve tenderloins instead with more veggies. If we use cheese in a recipe, I usually use way less and there hasn’t been any loss of taste to the dish.
This has been a great way to reduce our overall food budget and improve our eating habits.
We also buy whole roasted chickens and stretch those out to make more than one meal. With two roast chickens, I can make four meals for my family: roast chicken dinner, chicken wraps, chicken casserole, and finally, a soup that makes use of the leftover meat bits and bones. You can easily do the same thing with whole turkeys and hams. By consuming less meat per meal, you can stretch it out for more meals overall.
Watch for Stock up Sales and Rewards to reduce your food bill
Grocery stores tend to put things on sale in cycles every 6 to 8 weeks. Pay attention and you can take advantage of great prices to stock up on items you normally use like canned or frozen goods, kinds of pasta, soups, condiments, baking items, and more.
The other thing you can do to help reduce your food bill is to sign up with your grocery store’s rewards and loyalty programs. In my neck of the woods, grocery stores still offer items for free like turkeys around the holidays after you have spent a certain amount, digital coupons, and bonus rewards like free produce and goods.
When carefully planned, you can save a lot of money from shopping smart and using the program well.
Take Advantage of Discount Grocers, Markets, and Restaurant Supply Stores in your area
Every medium to large city has these kinds of stores, a quick Google search will help you find the ones in your area. A restaurant supply store that is open to the public sells bulk items at good prices. I usually buy cases of kinds of pasta and grains at much better prices than if I shopped at my normal grocery store.
Local vegetable markets tend to have better deals on fresh produce than chain stores. For example, 1 red bell pepper at my local grocery store was being sold for $1.69 whereas, at my local produce market, I bought 8 red bell peppers for $3!
Another option is to check out discount grocery stores. You can rarely go to these with a specific list however because they typically carry overstock items that the store acquires at rock bottom prices and then they extend those savings to their communities. A few tips for shopping at these stores:
- Try to find out when their shipments come in and get there early for the best picks.
- Examine packages for damage carefully. anything with broken seals or open parts should not be purchased.
- Check expiration dates. Most expiration dates on foods are a “Sell By ______” date and don’t necessarily mean that they are bad, especially with canned goods. However, if you find a can of corn from 5 years ago, you might want to keep looking for something a bit newer for your own pantry.
I hope this post gives you some ideas on how to save on your food bill, do you have an idea to share that I didn’t cover here? Let me know in the comments!