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If your food bill has gotten out of hand, and you are not eating as healthily as you should, you are going to LOVE these ideas, tips and tricks to help cut your food bill IN HALF! Yep, with a little determination and creativity, your family can eat healthier and you can save a ton of money doing so! Ready to learn how to drastically reduce your food bill? The next 10 ways to cut your food bill are super easy and take minimal time. Perfect for everyone who doesn’t want to, or doesn’t have time to, spend time saving money.
Here we go!
Save Big With Coupons.
Well, kind of.
If you don’t have time to devote hours a week to coupon clipping and gathering you can still save a ton of money! Believe me, I used to be an Extreme Couponer- our local food pantry *loved* me. I was that lady in the store with the GIANT binder pushing one cart and pulling another, going from store to store to store. But then the coupon deals dried up, and my kids got older and I had less and less time to devote to couponing.
So, these tips are not going to involve coupons in the traditional sense, but you are going to want to take advantage of easy to use mobile coupons because, well, they are easy to use and your phone is practically glued to your hand anyway, so you may as well put it to use!
To save the most money you need to change the way you shop.
It’s not as hard as it sounds because shopping has come a long way! The first step is to SHOP THE SALES. Once you know what is on sale for the best price you can then start planning meals and your list. No more willy-nilly throwing stuff into your cart.
One of my favorite ways to shop the sales is with the Flipp app. This app is amazing. It has every single store ad (from groceries to home improvement to furniture to auto supplies, it’s like a mobile newspaper sales section) in your area so you can easily compare prices and decide where to do the bulk of your shopping. Once you can compare which stores have the best prices, and also shop each store’s special sales and loss leaders, you can save some real money- AND start planning your meals. Take a look at how easy it is to use the Flipp app.
Here you can see that you can choose how you view ads. I am viewing all “grocery store” ads for my area. Jewel, Aldi & Walts are in my immediate area and where I usually shop, so I will likely focus on those store ads. If I know I am going to be in an area with other stores I will check out those ads, too.
Once you open an ad you can view the deals and tap the items you are interested in to add them to your shopping list. This week chicken thighs, grapes, cauliflower, green peppers, string beans, apples, eggs, yogurt and rotisserie chicken are all awesome prices- and they are all healthy foods! I will stock up on chicken thighs (easily frozen) and yogurt (with late expiration dates) and also buy an additional rotisserie chicken that I will deconstruct and freeze for another meal.
Up next: Think outside the box to save more on groceries.
Menards may be an odd place to shop for groceries, but our Menards is recently remodeled and has a huge grocery section. Last week they had Jack’s pizzas for $1.99 each, which is a great price for a quick snack-type pizza perfect for college kids’ freezers and easy game day snacks! Since I know my husband or I will surely end up at Menards this week I’ve added a few things to our list. They have applesauce, risotto and Oreo hot chocolate for $1 so those items are o my list. (The hot chocolate is great to stock up on for holiday gift giving- my little neighbor guys would love this “add-on” to their Christmas gifts and years ago I probably would have bought cute coffee mugs for my daughters’ friends and tucked this hot cocoa in them for inexpensive gifts for my favorite kids’ friends.) Tortellini for $1.50 is a great price, too!
There are lots of places to shop for food that you may not have considered: Dollar Tree, your local food co-op, if you live in a rural area local farms are a great source of fresh, inexpensive food!
Ready for the mobile coupons I mentioned above? These are SO EASY to use. I recently re-discovered Family Dollar as a great place to find deals. At our house in Michigan we do not have may shopping options, but Family Dollar is one of them. I am happy to have discovered a place to save money that is in town rather than having to drive 30-45 minutes to a larger town!
As with all stores, Family Dollar is hit or miss depending on their sale cycle. Two weeks ago it was great. This week there is not much I need right now and not much that is so good of a deal that I need to stock up for the future. The one item I do like is 138oz of Tide for $7.95. I am not brand-loyal when it comes to detergent, and this is a good price for a large size name brand detergent. The regular price is $8.95, but see the “$” icon by the price? Click that and add a $1 coupon to your phone. Get the Family Dollar app and sync it to Flipp to take advantage of Family Dollar’s mobile coupons. At checkout you enter your phone number in the credit card swiper thing and all of your mobile coupons will automatically come off.
It takes almost no time to add mobile coupons to your account at all sorts of stores and every bit you save will add up. So many stores offer mobile coupons now and it is such an easy way to save. I love that everything can be done from your phone, too. It is easy to shop sales, create a list and add mobile coupons during the day while waiting in line to pick up your kids, or while waiting at an appointment- any time, really!
Meal Plan to Save More Money AND Time!
Meal planning is one of the keys to saving money on food. Without a plan you are more likely to go out to dinner, which is $$$$, or pick up dinner, which is usually quick, but not healthy, or stop by the grocery store and end up shopping while hungry, which is $$$$. Taking the time to shop the sales and create a weekly dinner plan will save tons of money, loads of time, and allow you to make healthier meal choices. Click here to access our easy to use meal plan and grocery list printables. Plan lunches, too, and save even more money since going out to lunch during the workday can add up to thousands of dollars each year.
With this week’s sales I can plan at least three quick and easy AND healthy meals using the great deals we found shopping the sales:
- Rotisserie chicken with roasted cauliflower and lemon garlic green beans.
- Chicken tortellini soup using leftover rotisserie chicken.
- Roasted chicken thighs with mushroom risotto and parmesan green beans.
Using other items found in the sale ads, or items from my freezer and pantry stockpile, I can easily plan 2 or 3 more meals for the week, knowing we will probably go out to dinner or have leftovers once.
Stock up when the price is right.
Like I said, you have to be willing to change the way you shop and that means being prepared to stock up on items you eat and use regularly. Chicken thighs at $.88/lb are a stock up price. Shelf stable cheese tortellini for $1.50 is great to have on hand for a quick “pasta and garlic bread” dinner ready in less than 30 minutes. When your kids’ favorite cereal is on sale for $1.88 (usually the lowest cereal seems to go these days) buy 4 boxes instead of 1. Stock up on pantry staples, like pasta sauce, soups, and ingredients for tacos when you spot a deal and you will always have dinners on hand that take less than 30 minutes to whip up. The same is true for personal products, cleaning products and pet products! Chances are you’ve worked all of these expenses into your general food budget, so they all play a part in reducing your grocery bill.
Every night does not have to be an ordeal when it comes to dinner! (One night I was making chicken parmesan when a friend stopped by unannounced to drop something off. She was like, “Why in the world are you making chicken parmesan on a weeknight?” and I was like, “I have no idea!” LOL!) Once in awhile is one thing, but elaborate weeknight meals were a thing I always did and in hindsight, they added stress and were kind of excessive. Sandwiches, tacos, pasta- even omelets!- are perfectly fine dinners!) Keeping it simple is usually healthier and definitely less expensive!
Eat Less Meat- and save big.
This may not be a popular idea with your husband, so don’t announce it. My husband is a total carnivore and if I mention we’re doing Meatless Monday he tends to have a tiny tantrum. If pasta loaded with summer veggies from our garden, or a grilled veggie sandwich appears before him, he tends not to notice the missing meat. Check out our Meatless Mondays board on Pinterest for tons of awesome recipe ideas from great food bloggers!
Meat is expensive. Veggies, when you shop the sales and buy vegetables that are in season, are cheap. A vegetable lasagna can be as hearty as just about any meat dish- just get creative and you won’t miss the meat.
Make Instead of Buy.
Stop buying everything- it’s expensive, in more ways than one!
Store bought items, like seasoning packets, cookies and muffins, are costly and loaded with ingredients you can’t pronounce. Start making your own seasoning blends for chili, tacos, etc. and also your own muffins and cookies. Baking is a great way to have fun in the kitchen and if you have kids it is a great opportunity to teach them life skills and spend quality time with them.
Think about other items you can make instead of buy, like garlic bread made from a loaf of $.88c bread from the “day old” bread bin instead of spending $4 on a frozen loaf, and you will be money ahead in no time. While convenience is nice, paying for it adds up. It literally takes less than 2 minutes to make garlic bread and you’ll save $3+ every time. If you have pasta once a week, that’s $150 a year… And Pasta Night is such a cheap meal! For a family of 4 you can have great dinner that costs $6: Pasta $1.00, Sauce $2.00, Garlic Bread $1.00, Salad $2.00. (No, I do not make my own sauce. Why? Because it never tastes good. I leave it to the sauce pros. 😉
Is your coffee maker making you broke?
I’m totally guilty of this because I love my Keurig. We have one at our lake house and our apartment. And, I will even admit we have one in our camper. <sigh> I told you I love it. (Plus, I am not waiting 30 minutes for Cowboy Coffee while camping. I’m just not.) But k-cups are SO EXPENSIVE! If you really want to save money, switch back to a regular coffee pot. If you are not willing to give up your Keurig, which at the moment we are not, try to find cheaper k-cups.
We were Dunkin Donuts all the way, but those k-cups are about $.50c a piece, even when on sale. (Staples, btw, had the best deals we could find on Dukin Donuts k-cups, especially if you find a $10/$30 coupon…) One day I notice k-cups on clearance on the Menards website and we decided to risk it. We bought 10 cases for $10 each, each with 120 k-cups. Would you believe it’s actually really good?! It really is! I am sad that we only have two cases left and it is no longer available because I doubt we will find good tasting k-cups at $.08c a piece ever again!
Stick to the list!
You took the time to make it, so use it and save money! Sticking to the list keeps your spending on track because you’re only buying what you need, you’re buying it at a great price, and your list was made from shopping the sales. Click here to access our easy to use meal plan and grocery list printables, which will keep you on track.
- You spot amazing deals on items you actually need and use (not want) and can stock up at an all time low price. Think clearance and unadvertised store sales.
- You truly forgot to add an item to your list and if you don’t buy it, you’re screwed.
Think toothpaste. Or butter. Or sugar. (All of which should be in your stockpile anyway…) Do not think Heath bar. 😉
Leave Your Kids at Home.
Don’t shop with people who are going to try to get you to deviate from your list- this includes your spouse, too, if they are a bad influence. IF you are going to shop with your kids, let them pick ONE THING under $X.xx as a treat. Other than that, make them stick to the list. It’s a great life skill for them! When your kids are older, give them their own (very detailed) list to shop from. This does two things: it keeps them occupied AND it teaches them how to shop!
Years ago (my kids are in their 20’s now, to give you some reference) I stopped letting my kids shop with me at the grocery store, Target, etc. and at the end of the month I had saved almost $500. That was a real eye-opener for me!
Your freezer, your friend.
Freeze leftovers! Freeze them in family sized or individual portions for quick meals and lunches for busy days.
Freeze extra veggies! If you have leftover veggies, or didn’t get around to cooking everything you thought you would, freeze them for later. Things like onions, zucchini and squash can be sliced, frozen on a cookie sheet and transferred to a Ziploc for cooking at a later date. I love having already chopped onion on hand in my freezer.
Freeze herbs! If you cook with fresh herbs you know how pricey they are. Freeze leftover herbs to use in the future. You can freeze them by themselves, or in olive oil if you saute with herbs.
Freeze leftover wine. I know- what’s leftover wine? But if you’re like me, I only cook with white wine (I don’t drink it) so if I purchase a bottle and use 1/4C in a recipe, I freeze the rest in 1/4C servings for future recipes.
Leave your loyalty in the car.
There are very few brands I am “brand loyal” to. In fact, there are so few I am having trouble thinking of one. Splashless Clorox bleach is the only thing I can think of. Such a splurge! :p To save the most money, you have to be willing to change the way you shop and that includes buying specific brands. Of course, if you have kids who love Frosted Flakes this may be difficult- OR you could save the Frosted Flakes box and refill it with store brand. You can do anything once… See if they notice. I bet they don’t.
If you are willing to use the brand of toothpaste, pasta sauce, rice, laundry detergent, milk…whatever…that has the best deal, you will save. And don’t forget about store brands! Their quality is great and they are usually priced less than name brand. I think we can all agree that sugar is sugar and fluffy toilet paper is fluffy toilet paper, regardless of the brand.
There you have it- 10 things that are super easy to do and will add up to HUGE savings over time. What is your favorite grocery savings tip? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!
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For more money-saving tips and ideas, check out our Frugal Living and Money MattersPinterest boards. They are loaded with hundreds of money-making and creative budgeting ideas from other top bloggers.