Sunday, 17 April 2011

Creative Ways To Save Money On Food

By: Notes From The Frugal Trenches

We've all heard some of the best ways to save money on food include: shopping with a list, planning your meals, taking a lunch to work, bringing cash to the supermarket and rarely eating out. All of those have lowered my own grocery budget significantly. But recently I wanted to cut my grocery budget by another 35% in order to live on an "Extreme Frugality" budget in this season of my life. I wasn't sure how I would do it, but I've found a few creative ways which have made a huge difference & are saving me time and money.

1. I remembered how important it is to shop at home first. I have a small kitchen and for a few weeks I skipped this step and it showed in my grocery spending. Shopping at home first works because I don't purchase items I already have, I'm more aware of what I'm low on {and therefore able to look for good deals to stock up}, I'm able to cut down on food waste & I can visibly see how much I already have to use up and plan my meals around!

2. I've completely cleaned out my fridge, organizing it so that everything is clearly visible and organized. No more thinking I don't have enough to stretch, because I can actually see that I have a lot I can use up. I've found this also helps me see what I can substitute. I may not have leeks for a soup, but I have celery. A clean fridge really has helped much more than I thought it would.

3. I've learned that I need to focus on what is right in this season of my life. I blogged recently that I felt this overwhelming guilt {for about 10 minutes} that I don't make my own ketchup. But in my household, ketchup is probably used less than 5x a year, so it makes no sense to make it. Remembering to think about the time/money balance has really helped me focus on what I can do which will have the biggest impact on my food budget.

4. I've enjoy slow cooker Wednesdays & soup night! Generally these are both very frugal veggie recipes making use of lentils, chickpeas & veg that needs using up. What's more they pretty much provide my lunches for the week and add to my freezer stock pile!

5. I've joined a lunch co-op group in my building at work. We basically all bring a salad ingredient and make a massive healthy salad one day per week. Generally I contribute about $1 worth of food {radishes, cucumbers, onions etc} and have a really lovely salad to enjoy & good company to boot! If your work/building doesn't have a lunch club, think about starting one.

6. When friends suggest eating out, I suggest a pot luck. It's a great way to socialize & spend time with friends, without having to come up with the money to eat out.

7. I'm in the process of joining a food co-op, I donate 2 hours of labor a month and I get a significant reduction on locally sourced foods.

8. Where possible I try to buy eggs from people who have chickens. Where I currently live this is nigh on impossible as people aren't allowed to raise chickens, but where I used to live I was able to source local eggs and support local hobby farms while saving money. It was a win-win-win situation.

What creative ways do you use to save money? Do you have any tips to share?


Sasha said...

At my old work we used to have a lunch club, but it was a bit different. There were 4 of us in it and every week we each would bring 4 portions of one meal and trade - we knew the dietary restrictions everyone had and planned accordingly, but it was super frugal to make 4 portions of something and in exchange get 3 new items back.

Notes From The Frugal Trenches said...

That's a great suggestion Sasha!

Ollamha Anne said...

I get all the flyers and plan my menu around what is on sale. Combined with knowing what I have on hand, every meal is a deal! In fact, there are very few things that I am willing to purchase when they're not on sale. It helps that I work next door to one of the grocery stores, and I live across the street from another.

I usually take some form of leftover for my lunch; however, sometimes I "splurge" and have a sandwich.

Hopewell said...

LOVE the lunch co-op idea!! That's a great idea for any office! Keeping organized saves TONS of money. You can stick stuff in the freezer if plans change or pull something out of the freezer. The trick is knowing what's on hand. This week I have a ZERO DOLLAR shopping budget, but by keeping the pantry well stocked in times of plenty we are ok this week.

skybluepinkish said...

The clean fridge and larder is a must. I know because both ours could do with a good sort out! You are so right about being able to see exactly what you have and plan a meal accordingly when it's all clean and simple

emily said...

Please check out my blog for some creative uses for leftovers...muffins made from cereal crumbs, soup from wilted greens, etc. Thanks, Emily

Amy said...

I keep an inventory list of my "pantry" items, especially canned goods that I use often. That way, when I see I am getting low on something, I can keep my eye out for deals to stock up.

Marilee said...

Yogurt and Granola are really easy to make and can save a lot of money if these are staples for your family (as they are for mine) When I'm on my game I make our bread in the bread machine too. (It takes about 6 minutes a loaf and I can create really good whole grain sandwich bread)

I also love using fruit I dried when it was abundant in my granola- my children love finding "their" strawberries in the granola.

Samantha Aungle said...
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Samantha Aungle said...

I know what that's like to live frugally, anyway. As I have had chronic fatigue for nearly 4 years and live mostly off a government pension. Even though I am 32! I also know what it is like to have local hobby farm eggs, as I also used to live in an area where it was a bit more country. I now live by the beach in the tropics of Queensland, Australia.

I have a worm farm and plan to make my own essential oil soaps, candles, paper and other crafty things from recycled materials. The library is good for the information as well as the internet. I am an artist and musician, with number one status in the alternative charts for reverbnation Cairns. That doesn't mean sales are high though! It's all just based on internet activity.

I made my own recipe from the top of my head for homemade chicken and veg pie, using organic veg and organic chicken yesterday. I found I had enough ingredients to freeze half the filling, and so I will defrost it and then make a fresh base when I want to make the other pie. I use organic chicken drumsticks from woolworths, which are quite cheap for 4. See the recipe and other recipes here.