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Easy Food Budget Tips

Need food budget tips? I’d like to share some of my tips and tricks for keeping the cost down on delicious meals. Saving money on groceries is not as difficult as you might think. In fact, you might actually enjoy the challenge once you get into it. I’ve actually made a game of it, which makes the sting less painful.

dollar sign over a hand and a hand basket full of groceries in a grocery store aisle

With a little creativity and planning, you can eat well and still save money at the same time. Here are some tips that, if you’re not already doing, might save you both time and money.

1. Plan Your Meals

I like to plan meals in advance, even if it will be a while before I make them. After I have several (or several dozen) meals planned, I make a list of the ingredients I’ll need. Then I can stock up on those items when they go on sale.

dinner table full of food

2. Compare Prices in Each Section of the Grocery Store

Is it really cheaper to buy in bulk? Sometimes. Check the price per ounce or however the food is measured. Does the larger size of a box of corn flakes save you money? I’ve discovered that this isn’t always the case. The key is to check the unit price and compare that.

3. Look for Seasonal and Frozen Fruits and Vegetables

One thing I’ve discovered over the past 50 years is that seasonal fruits and veggies are typically cheaper than those that aren’t in season. If you have time, check farmers’ markets where you can often pick up some great deals. Another thing I look at is the cost of buying the frozen version. Many times, frozen fruits and vegetables are less expensive, and they will last longer in the freezer.

4. Enjoy Leftovers

Leftovers can save you big bucks and time. Occasionally, I’ll simply reheat yesterday’s food and enjoy it again. I’ve also found ways to get creative with leftovers. For example, when I cook chicken, I make enough to have chicken salad the next day. Or you can cook more roast than you’ll need for one meal and have beef hash. This saves money and eliminates waste.

5. Embrace Your Freezer

Don’t forget that freezing food enables you to keep it longer without going bad. I like to freeze bread, meat, cheese, butter, and of course leftovers. When you cook any kind of soup, stew, or casserole, make extra to freeze for another meal.

6. Avoid Processed Foods

If you’re on a budget, it’s better to choose whole foods rather than processed food. Yes, I do use convenient processed food for quick and easy recipes. However, I do know that cooking from scratch is healthier. And you don’t have the expensive costs of so many ingredients that you don’t need or want.

7. Be Cautious with Protein

Make smart choices when purchasing protein. I like to stock up on meat when it goes on sale. And it does. Keep an eye on the flyers or check the grocery store’s website. One of the stores in my area puts ribeye steaks on a deeply discounted sale every six weeks, so I pick up family packs and repackage them for my freezer. Do the same thing with ground beef, pork, and chicken. Also, chicken thighs and drumsticks usually cost quite a bit less than the breast, and they’re very tasty! Fill in with other proteins, such as beans and lentils.

8. Batch Cook

I like to do batch cooking on occasion. This helps when I need to save time. It also keeps me out of the fast food line, which can get quite expensive. Use freezer containers and bags to store the servings for those times when you’re in a time crunch.

9. Use Loyalty Programs and Coupons

Check to see if your local grocery store has a loyalty program. If they do, sign up. It’s amazing how much you can save if you’re a loyalty card carrying customer. Also keep an eye out for coupons. But resist the urge to clip coupons for foods you don’t intend to buy just because you have a coupon. 

10. Make Your Own Snacks

There are so many different snacks you can make to save money. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Popcorn – This delicious treat tastes like it’s covered in butter, but it’s not! And it’s addictive!
  • Oatmeal Strawberry Bars – Yummy as a snack, it’s also filling and delicious for breakfast!
  • Moose Munch – This treat is even better than the expensive version because you add the best of the best ingredients without the cost.
  • Corn Chips – There’s nothing better to dip into salsa than homemade corn chips! You can pick up a huge, inexpensive stack of corn tortillas from the grocery store, or even better from your local taco truck.

I like the fact that I can tweak the recipes of homemade snacks to make them suitable for my family.

11. Be Smart About Drinks

I quit buying bottled water years ago when I realized how much I was spending. Plus, we had to find a way to dispose of those plastic bottles when recycling wasn’t an option. Now, we drink filtered water from bottles and tumblers that are reusable. If you want extra flavor, add some lemon juice or even a few frozen berries to your glass of water.

Also consider how much money you’re spending on coffee drinks and smoothies. Here are some you can make at home, and they’re just as tasty. In fact, you might even like them more.

  • Coffee Smoothie – This drink is so delicious and filling you can even consider it breakfast!
  • Pineapple Smoothie – Every sip is like going on a tropical vacation!
  • Mango Smoothie – When you’re in the mood for something exotic, this drink hits the spot!
  • Southern Sweet Tea – Follow Julia’s Simply Southern tips to make this staple of the South! It’s so refreshing and delicious!
  • Hot Chocolate – When it gets cold outside, I have you covered. Start with hot cocoa mix and add a few other ingredients to make your very own designer drink!

Small Changes Can Deliver Big Savings

Even if you only follow a couple of these tips, you’ll save a lot of money over time. You don’t have to start out using all of them. But once you realize how easy it is to take budget-friendly steps, you’ll be hooked!

Please feel free to share!