Saving money on food costs has always been a hot topic. In fact, when I speak about this topic, the interest is high. The need to buy, organize and prepare food will always be an active part of each of us. Lately, food costs have soared. Some of the items we regularly buy are not available anywhere while other have doubled in cost. It is my suspicion that the current increase in food costs are here to stay. Usually, when costs increase, they don’t every decrease.
Food costs are expected to rise in the year ahead. In fact, my husband paid over seven dollars for a gallon of milk this week. As inflation surges to levels not seen in decades and supply chain disruptions continue, food manufacturers are preparing to raise prices on a wide range of products. With the ever increasing demand for groceries combined with the soaring freight charges and variant-related labor shortages, the backlog deepens.
Over the years as a mom of five, I have spent $1000’s of groceries. Growing up in a family of six with $50 a week for groceries, I actively helped my mom stretch our food costs. Many of the principles outlined here apply to gaining the most for your investment. My goal in my home is to save money and simplify meal time. Implementing the ideas below will consistently ensure that your funds are best appropriated. As we respond to current increases in food costs, here are a few easy ways to cut your food expenses:
- Assessment? What do I have? Before beginning to shop or even create a grocery list, take some time to thoughtfully look through your current food inventory.
- Evaluate your refrigerator, freezer and pantry.
- Make lists of what you have.
- Identify things that I need to use.
- Check dates and throw things out. Aim to use everything before the dates expire. Throwing out food is the same as putting cash in your garbage can. You bought the food. Aim to use it.
- Use what you have purchased, or gardened, or hunted, or fished. Be a good steward.
- Take some time to sort and organize what is currently in your home. Pull items with the earliest expiration dates forward.
2. Know what you need.
- List of staples. As a gift to YOU, I created a FREE download for you to use for a grocery shopping list. Just refresh this page and sign up to be the first to know on my VIP list. You will automatically receive a letter with your shopping list. Customize this list by identifying just what you need for your home.
- Identify what non perishables your household uses.
- Aim to purchase these when they are on sale in the sale cycle of the stores where you shop.
- Identify the pantry items that your household uses.
- Compile a list of what you regularly purchase. Keep a check on the needed items. When you are starting to use the last one, be sure to stock up. This habit saves money because you are purchasing items at the lowest cost on sale or in bulk.
- Buy when things are on sale. Know the price of things that you purchase regularly. I know that this seems strange, but many people do not what any of their grocery items cost. I am guessing they just grab what they need and throw it in the basket?
- Evaluate how your current season of life affects your shopping.
- Organize your food areas regularly. It is so easy for them to become chaotic.
- Enjoy not going to the grocery so often. You automatically save money when you go to the grocery store less. Aim to make a big purchase every two weeks or less based on your determined needs. Make quick grocery grabs on those off weeks based on needs for fresh items.
- Imagine how you might want to use your free time!
- Plan to group your food shopping, planning and cooking.
- Plan ahead – breakfasts, lunches, dinner, snacks
- Make a plan on paper or digitally. Invite your family to contribute idea. Posting the food plan helps your family to know what is available as well as what is coming up in the day or week.
- Shop your fresh food first from local sources.
- Shop produce, meat, dairy, non- perishables, etc.
4. Shop sales/ bulk purchases
- Food fetching – Know what you need. Shop for your favorite items and best sales by going to the right location.
- Shop bulk – The Mennonites store nearby sells me 24# and 50# bags off dry goods to refill my gamma lidded pails.
- Make sure bulk size is cheaper than smaller size.
- Strangely, the larger bundles of items are quite a bit more than smaller sizes. So it would be cheaper to buy the items individually than in bulk. Just check before you haul a heavy case of something to your car thinking you have saved money.
- Calculate costs or do the mental math of estimates while you are shopping.
- Take your children with you strategically so they will know how to grocery shop. One day they will be adults. This is one of the skills they will need. Were you prepared to grocery shop and prepare food when you became an adult?
- Know what you need (#2) will guide you on sale and bulk purchases.
5. Bulk cook
- Read how to bulk cook in my book Nurturing My Nest: Intentional Home Building and Custom Build Education.
- Cook ahead to save yourself time and money. Seriously, this habit can save you so much time washing dishes and stressing about what is for dinner or any meal.
- Double recipes. If you don’t see a way to take time to bulk cook for the week or month, start doubling recipes. Pretty soon you will have a freezer full of meal options to grab when you are running late or just need a break or when you need to take a meal to someone in need.
Some of my best ideas come from networking with clever shoppers. For all of you smart, money-savers out there, please comment below or on FB or IG with your best ideas for saving on food. Your thoughts would be most appreciated. Please SHARE!!
For additional ideas on all things home and family:
Listen to a conversation with my husband on this topic on Embrace Your Everyday podcast on this topic.