It's hard to decide which is more infuriating, $4 gasoline or $4
milk, but whichever you personally find most appalling, one thing is
for certain, someday a time will come where we look back with
nostalgia for the good old days of $4 milk or gas.
That is to say, we can count on prices always advancing. Even
when they do retreat a bit, like gas has done recently, you know it
won't be for long, as it's already starting back up.
I supposethat's just part of the rhythm of modern life, but we don't
it, and we don't have to let ourselves be billowed by every
inflationary breeze that comes wafting our way. Like most
anything else, there are ways to get by cheaper and better when you
Here are forty-nine
ways to get more food and spend less cash:
1. First, Track Your Expenses
You can’t save money if you don’t know how much you’re spending to
begin with. Keep a list of everything you buy. Once
you’ve got an idea of what you spend each month or each week, then
you can make a budget and begin to set goals.
2. Grow Your Own
Obviously this is the way to achieve the most savings. Make a
garden this year. Next year make a bigger garden. If you
own a freezer and know how to can and preserve you can do more
financial damage to your local grocer than with any other method.
Not only that, but you can’t buy healthier food, and you’ll enjoy
your meals even more when you produce them yourself.
3. Cook Without
question, you can cook your own food more cheaply than you can hire
someone to cook it for you. This is not to say that you
shouldn’t ever go to another restaurant, or order another pizza,
when you want to celebrate, or just to take a break, but if you’re
out to save money, you need to be the one who prepares your meals.
4. Keep a Running Grocery List When
you run out of anything, add it to the list. The more
well-stocked your larder, the better you’ll eat, and the less you’ll
spend. Always take your list of the things you need
when you shop, and only buy what's on the list. If it’s not on
the list, then you obviously don’t need it.
5. Use Discount Grocery Stores
We’re talking about the types that buy surplus lots in grocery
auctions, not just the ones that have “discount” in their names.
We save a small fortune every year by shopping at a local discount
grocery, Not only do we save a lot of cash, but our diet
is much more varied than it used to be because the discount stores
wind up with lots of unusual items that may not sell so well in
middle America. For example, we frequently have lots of fancy
foreign cheeses, Brie, Camembert, Gouda, you name it. These
apparently don’t appeal to the typical Ozarkian, or maybe the
typical American, palate, but we love them, and we get them for less
than the price of Velveeta.
6. Buy in Bulk
As with most everything else, the more you buy, the cheaper it you
get it. Olia recently brought home a 40-pound carton of green
bananas from the discount grocery for which she paid $6.50 total.
That’s 16.25 cents per pound versus 60 to 90 cents per pound in
regular stores. Of course you don’t save much if your fruit
rots in the fridge, but I prefer my bananas slightly green, Olia
likes them slightly brown, and when we’d both had what we liked, she
made many loaves of tasty banana bread.
7. Cook for a Week, or Month
If you’ll cook up large batches of your favorite foods and put them
away in the fridge, freezer or pantry in single-meal portions,
you’ll not only save money because of buying in bulk, but you'll
also earn yourself quite a bit of free time. Try making a
stock-pot full of soup or stew and freezing what you don't eat.
You'll have a quick, tasty meal that the biggest clutz in the family
can prepare for himself.
8. Recycle Old Meals
A/K/A leftovers. Don't just keep them, make a meal from them.
Monday’s Casserole and Tuesday's Roast can become Wednesday’s stew
with a little stock and some seasonings. Likewise a large
piece of meat can be stretched a lot further, as well as be more
tasty and healthy if you use it in several different dishes with
many bite-sized morsels. We rarely eat large pieces of meat
alone, but often have meat mixed in a bowl of rice or buckwheat, or
on a large salad.
9. Don’t Throw Away Food
Save your bacon grease, make stock from your chicken carcass, save
hambones to add to bean soups. If you don’t have time to do
these things after dinner, put them in a bag in the freezer.
Save everything you can think of a use for, and don’t forget the
livestock/pets and the compost pile.
10. Avoid Impulse Purchases
These are the bane of all would-be frugal shoppers, so just don’t
do it. If you truly need an item, then it should appear on
your list next week.
11. Keep a Running Grocery List When
you run out of anything, add it to the list. The more
well-stocked your larder is, the better you’ll eat, and the less
you’ll spend. Always take your list of the things you
need when you shop, and only buy what's on the list. If it’s
not on the list, then you obviously don’t need it.
12. Make Fewer Shopping Trips
The more often you go shopping, the more you are likely to spend.
About half of all grocery shoppers go to the store three or four
times a week. This is probably less true of homesteaders who
spend less time in town, but the principle still applies. Try
to make your shopping trip no more than once per week. If that
works, try for every two weeks, even every month. This tends
to focus you more on buying larger quantities more carefully.
Investigate;Ask Questions What's the
price difference between the bag of dried beans that sells for $.89
and the can of beans that sells for $.99? Just a dime? No.
The bag yields 7 cups of cooked beans, $.13 per cup. The can
yields 1-1/2 cups of cooked beans, $.66 per cup. The canned
beans—as inexpensive as they are—are five times more
expensive than dried beans.
14. Take a Calculator
Many stores have already calculated the unit prices of the items you
buy, but many don’t offer this. Also, if you’re being
genuinely thoughtful about your purchases, you’ll probably want a
little help in the brain department while you’re moving through the
15. Food Only Please Paper
goods, cleaning supplies and cosmetics are probably going to be less
expensive at big-box stores like Target or Wal-Mart. This also
helps you to track your grocery costs separately from other living
16. Avoid Processed Food
You’ll be wealthier and healthier if you buy basic commodities that
only have one item in their list of ingredients—things like
potatoes, beans, apples. Not only will you avoid lots of
chemicals and preservatives, but you’ll save a ton of money.
Just remember, if it has a trademark or a brand name, you’re paying
more and probably undermining your health in the bargain.
17. Cut Up Your Own Food
Consumer Reports found that two pounds of carrots cost $1.29,
compared with $7.16 for the same amount of precut carrot sticks.
Also avoid “vegetable medley” packages.
18. Don’t Buy Water
Everyone knows that bottled water is expensive, but fewer people
know that it may be inferior, or at least no better than your tap
water at home. If you have your own well, the odds are very
good that you have cleaner, better water than the brands from
Coca-Cola and Pepsico. If you have city water, yours may be,
probably is, just as good. You may want to invest in a
reusable water-filtering pitcher.
19. Don’t Buy Disguised Water, Either
When we were kids, Kool-Aid
only came in an envelope. You could add only the amount of
sweetener you wanted, and your own water, and you spent a lot less
money. So why buy it by the bottle? That’s a good
example, but there are lot of other ways you pay more just for
water. Such as, cartons of fruit juice, canned broth or soup,
canned, cooked beans, low-fat coconut milk, Jello cups, applesauce,
popsicles, even chicken and pork injected with water and salt
20. Don't Buy Designer Salt
Specialty spice mixes are usually 90% salt. You can just buy the
basic herbs and spices, then make your own.
21. DON’T Use Coupons
Ever see a coupon for bananas? Apples? Coupons may offer
apparent savings, but they’re usually for some sort of processed
food that still winds up costing you more.
22. DO use Coupons
Okay, nobody’s perfect. Sometimes you or your family
will want to buy things even if they aren’t pure as the driven snow.
If you’re going to buy it anyway, having a coupon makes it cheaper.
It’s a no-brainer.