Saving money on food bills

Tricks for speedy prep, packing, food safety, freezing, organization, and saving money

Saving money on food bills

Postby Biggie » Sun Jan 11, 2009 1:42 pm

How do you cut your food bills, besides packing lunch instead of eating out? In my post How to Cut Your Food Bills, I detailed ideas for the general methods below. What's your system for cost cutting?

SAVE MONEY AT THE STORE
1. Choose your stores wisely
2. Shop smart
3. Use coupons
4. Buy in bulk

SAVE MONEY AT HOME
5. Use a food inventory system
6. Get organized
7. Plan out your menus
8. Recycle things in the home for kitchen use
9. Reduce energy consumption in the kitchen

WHEN TRAVELING OR DINING OUT
10. Pack a lunch instead of eating at a restaurant or cafeteria
11. Bring your restaurant leftovers home
12. Pack a lunch to eat on the airplane/train
Lunch in a Box, speedy bento lunches (my profile's here)
Fluent in Japanese, mom to "Bug" (9)
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Re: Saving money on food bills

Postby christina » Sun Jan 11, 2009 1:58 pm

I have a lot of luck with the discount bin at my grocery store. When the packaging on something is damaged, they will cut the price a lot.
Also, I will sometimes buy what is on sale in quantity and plan meals around that.
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Re: Saving money on food bills

Postby Beanbean » Sun Jan 11, 2009 6:36 pm

We invested in a good bread machine and we make our own bread each week. I'm amazed at how much we save just by doing this. We also know that our bread doesn't have added high fructose corn syrup.

I stock up on canned beans (all varieties) when they go on sale and I also buy a lot of bulk rice, barley, bulgur, and dried beans.

When turkey kielbasa goes on sale, I buy that and freeze it. I have several crock post recipes that feature kielbasa and various beans and when I use the crock pot, our family of three gets two dinners and at least 4-6 lunch servings. Fortunately, all of us like to eat leftovers!

We save money by packing our lunch to school/work each day. My son does enjoy "pizza day" at school, so twice a month, he gets to have that.
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Re: Saving money on food bills

Postby tokyo_foodie » Sun Jan 11, 2009 7:02 pm

I did the simplest, most obvious thing.....which I should have been doing anyway. When I grocery shop, I make a menu and plan everything out. I have always made a list but I'd always throw in extra stuff in my cart at the store. Now I have turned into a list-nazi and won't stray one bit. It was hard at first but totally worth it. My grocery bill went from 120-150 down to 70-90 every 2.5 weeks.
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Re: Saving money on food bills

Postby QChan » Sun Jan 11, 2009 7:58 pm

In regards to the whole shopping thing I'm really lucky and the grocery store it just at the end of my street so I buy what I'm going to make for dinner that day, Things go bad less often, and I never run into the problem of not really wanting to make what I preplanned to make(Which is an issue for me)

I'm wondering how the whole packing a lunch for the airplane is working now a days, last time I flew(This past november) getting through customs was terrible, I didn't bring a lunch myself, but I saw other people trying to get food though and it seemed like a horrible ordeal.
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Re: Saving money on food bills

Postby Kyoki » Sun Jan 11, 2009 9:16 pm

Beanbean wrote:We invested in a good bread machine and we make our own bread each week. I'm amazed at how much we save just by doing this. We also know that our bread doesn't have added high fructose corn syrup.

I've thought about that, since my family is huge and we go through a lot of bread- probably two loaves a week, easily. I'd have to find a recipe to make my own bread mix, though.

We save money by buying ingredients only. We're on government assistance, so when we use the EBT card the rules are STRICT: No junk food, no 'single person' foods (stuff that only one person will eat), no prepared foods like corn dogs or Hot Pockets. If you want a treat, you have to spend your own savings on it. Since we don't make much extra, it makes sure that you -really- want that frozen pizza before you buy it. It saves loads of money.
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Re: Saving money on food bills

Postby polarama » Sun Jan 11, 2009 11:35 pm

We freeze a lot. I will freeze berries, bananas, etc. if it looks like they won't be finished before they go bad. Or if we make too much of something--like a chili or lasagna, I will freeze the leftovers right away.
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Re: Saving money on food bills

Postby gfbentomom » Mon Jan 12, 2009 9:26 am

We've tightened up our spending on snacks this year. There are so many tempting choices out there just calling out "buy me"! I buy a few individually packaged items in bulk at Costoc, choosing those that are healthy/all natural and come with the most number of packs for the money. They get saved for send to school or take along snacks, not eat at home. We have an inexpensive air popper and make alot of popcorn. I bake/make and freeze one thing per month(I have only one kid so that's plenty for us), like cupcakes or banana bread and occasionally make something else that's not too time consuming. The current favorite is tapioca pudding. Otherwise we have alot of seasonal fruit that's at it's best flavor and price. We've been bringing snacks with us when out and about on errrands or other weekend activities, so that we're not buying something along the way or adding things to the cart because we've been out longer than expected and get hungry. When I'm menu planning bentos and meals, I plan out snacks as well. This also helps cut down purchases. Kiddo needs a snack sent into school everyday because of a late lunch and needs an afterschool snack. For health reasons, I need an afternoon snack when I'm home and a snack(bento) when I'm out and they have to be correctly balanced, so I might as well plan all these snacks out when I'm planning everything else.
Come visit me at Flickr for bentos that are always gluten-free for mom and kiddo, sometimes casein-free and now always lowcarb for mom.
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Re: Saving money on food bills

Postby veganf » Mon Jan 12, 2009 12:38 pm

- cook a lot from scratch
- get local organic food from a CSA and off season buy store-brand organic or bulk organic from BJs
- freeze/dehydrate what we can in the summer (I haven't learned to can yet)
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Re: Saving money on food bills

Postby Riss » Mon Jan 12, 2009 1:48 pm

I too have a grocery store down the street, but I like to plan my lunches ahead at least. I don't stray from my list unless there is a sale on fruit or vegetables I like, in which case I buy some of those as well and any of them I don't use within days I chop and freeze. I do this a lot with zucchini/squash which can be boiled straight out of the freezer, and frozen bananas dipped in caramel are a great snack in the summer. As far as snacks go I buy fruit, pudding, and/or generic granola bars...not overpriced sweets and candies. Candy is reserved only for special occasions (like I aced the mid-term.) No bubblegum. No altoids.

Generic won't hurt you. My Nana spends obscene amounts on brand name food because she is too stubborn to eat generic, but seriously. A large amount of time in my experience Kroger's or HEB's or Target's generic brand foods taste just as good...sometimes even better. Also they are .50-$1.50 cheaper. It adds up.

I gave up Starbucks, high-price energy drinks, things that are non-essential like that. I save almost $10-15 a week by ONLY drinking coffee and tea I make myself and bring to school. This was hard for me being something of a caffeine addict and lover of Starbucks and Rockstar... but I just buy cheap generic ground coffee and flavor it with the kind of caramel syrup you put on ice cream and top it with whip cream. I also switched to tea a lot of the time which you can buy at dollar stores or bulk when it's on sale.

Don't be afraid to be that lady handing the cashier a thick stack of coupons. It really does help...even if you only save $5, that's a lot of money to me.
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