Budget-minded families are always looking for ways to save money. Cutting the cost of things like gas, utilities, and, yes, food, translates into more money for bigger picture things. Rather than blowing your budget on food, you can redirect some of your income to things like retirement savings, college tuition, big purchases, or even vacation.
Most articles on saving money talk about using coupons and having a good strategy for shopping. Those are all good tips and can make a big difference in your monthly grocery bill. You can also save money if you change the way you think about food.
Make Your Own
Grocery aisles these days are filled with pre-made foods that you could do yourself. For example, why pay $5 for a bag of salad greens when you can buy different lettuces, spinach, and other greens for a fraction of the cost and mix it yourself? You’ll get a bigger batch than what comes in the bags and you can pick and choose the greens that your family loves, leaving out the ones that make your kids say “yuck.”
You can apply this principle to many, many other things. Make your own fruit cups. Cook soup in batches and freeze them for later. Buy dry beans and cook them rather than getting them in cans. If you are industrious and know how to can food, you can save even more on vegetables, jams, pickles, and fruit preserves.
Other things you can make yourself to save money: salad dressings, mayonnaise, hummus, salsa, coleslaw, and stock for use in other recipes.
Grow Your Own
You don’t have to live on a farm to grow your own food. If you have room in your yard for a full on garden, more power to you. If not, you can always have a small planter garden on a patio or window. Many cities now have community gardens where you can get a plot and put your green thumb to work.
Home gardeners are growing all sorts of things in creative ways these days. You can easily grow your own herbs in an apartment, but did you know you can grow potatoes? With a little bit of research and the right soil and lights, your options are nearly limitless.
Buying food in bulk usually conjures up images of bins full of grains, beans, rice, and flours. Did you know that some natural stores sell honey, peanut butter, and even syrup in bulk? Have you ever thought about buying meat in bulk? What about buying an entire flat of berries when they are on sale rather than a single container?
Two things have made buying in bulk more cost-efficient in recent years: dehydrators and vacuum sealers. With a dehydrator you can dry fruits, veggies, and even meats so that they keep for months at a time without any worry about temperature. If you have a vacuum sealer, you can store meats and some vegetables for weeks longer than in regular packaging.
Another way to buy in bulk is to take advantage of big sales. Instead of buying one bag of frozen fruit, buy ten — assuming you have a freezer large enough to hold it. This applies to anything really, from frozen vegetables to meat to pasta or breakfast cereal. If you have the space, buy when it’s on sale so that you won’t be at the mercy of regular prices when you run out.
When it comes down to saving money on food, all you need is an organized freezer, space for bulk dried goods, and time to make things yourself. If you also have the ability to grow your own food, the savings will multiply and maybe that extended cruise or overseas vacation won’t just be a pipe dream.