For all my food-lovers out there, this post doesn’t contain a recipe… BUT it contains tons of awesome time-and money-saving tips that help me out every day.
Read on to learn how to save some dough in the kitchen without ever clipping a coupon!
We’re all guilty of buying chili powder for that chicken chili recipe only to get home and find out we have 3 more just like it in the pantry. Not to mention filling our crisper drawers with tons of beautiful strawberries, lettuce, and cucumbers, then realizing a week later you forgot about them. Oy vey! It’s all money down the drain! Literally.
I think it’s safe to say we’re all interested in keeping more money in our pockets and less in the local sewer system. Well it’s your lucky day! I’ve got SIX easy ways to save some dough in the kitchen, without using coupons. These tips are packed with specific, practical examples that will help you save a little more of your hard-earned $$!
1. Follow Sales Cycles & Buy In Bulk:
Most grocery stores regularly cycle their specials and sales, usually every 6 to 8 weeks. If you are observant, you can detect the sales pattern for some of your frequent purchases, too. If you regularly purchase a certain product, during the next sale buy enough to last until it goes on sale again.
- If one pound of Peet's French Roast Coffee costs $9.99/pound and goes on sale for $6.99, I’m all over it. I know I use a pound of coffee per week so I stock up on enough to last me until the next sale. This way I’m never paying full price and I always have my java on hand when I need it.☕️ #coffeeisnotoptional
- Here’s another example: At my grocery store I’ve found that antibiotic-free, boneless, skinless chicken breasts go on sale every four weeks for $2.99 a pound. Like clockwork. When the sale happens, I buy what I need to last four weeks, and freeze it. For items like raw meat, I’ll remove them from their store packaging, and use labeled freezer-strength resealable bags to keep things organized and save space. I follow this same pattern with coffee creamer, almond milk, canned tomatoes etc. This system also works really well with things that can store easily in a pantry, like coffee, cereal, baking supplies, and even some cleaning supplies.
- Buying larger sizes can actually save you money. I know this seems unreal but it happens. When stores run sales the item might actually be larger than the size you need but could be the best deal. For example… You may only need one ($1.50) 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes. But the 28 ounce can in the same brand is on sale for 99 cents per can. Buy the larger can, use what you need, and freeze the rest in a resealable freezer bag for another time. You essentially saved .50 cents and you got almost double the amount of diced tomatoes. This tactic is especially helpful with items you use frequently.
(14.5 ounce can of Diced Tomatoes for $1.50 each. 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes for .99 cents each. Clearly the the larger size is the best deal all day long... Almost double the amount for .50 cents less. Cha Ching Cha Ching!! That's money in your pocket!?)
2. Plan Your Meals On A Weekly Basis.
Putting together a meal plan for the week can save you time and money!! Here’s how:
- Rather than going to the grocery store every other day to pick up what you need for dinner, put your weekly plan together and just go once a week. A time saver for sure.⏰
- Now for the money-saving part… If you follow tip #1 above, then you will already have many of your frequently used groceries on hand. To start your weekly menu plan, take note of your stockpile and then decide what’s on the menu for the week. Not only a money saver (because you purchased it on sale) but a time saver as well: your meals almost plan themselves. It’s also important to note how far in advance you need to thaw out any frozen ingredients… set a reminder on your smartphone about thawing that chicken, and be done with it! When you put this plan in place, you’ll find that you only need to buy a few ingredients to make each meal for that week.?
- Plus, when you take stock of your ingredients before you go to the grocery store, it prevents you from buying unnecessary duplicates. Seems too simple to be helpful, but take it from a girl who has 3 jars of ground mustard in her spice rack – it’s worth it to check your stash BEFORE you head to the grocery store.✌️
- There are some tremendous tips and templates for weekly meal planning over at Living Well Spending Less - click here to check them out:
3. Follow The Seasons.
… meaning, cook and buy things that are in season. Here's why: if it’s in season, then it’s readily available... and due to the surplus inventory, prices will be more competitive AKA inexpensive. It’s the law of supply and demand, and it will always take its toll. For example, go with apples in the fall, Brussels sprouts in the winter, strawberries in the spring, corn on the cob in the summer. Plus, it will just taste better. Have you ever purchased a cantaloupe in the winter only to get it home, cut into it and find it to be completely void of flavor???
4. Use Every Bit Of The Groceries You Buy!
- Have bones? Make stock. I’m sure you enjoy the random roaster chicken from your local grocer (who doesn’t? It’s quick, easy and everybody’s happy). But wait there’s more: salvage all the bones, add a carrot, baby onion, celery stick, and some salt. Boil covered with several cups of water for an hour, and… Voila! DIY, yummy, healthy, Chicken Stock (B calls it “Power Stock” because of it's intense flavor). It’s way more flavorful than store-bought and you’re saving some cash. Don’t have time to make stock the same night you eat the bird? Freeze the bones and make a big batch all at once when you have time.
- Can’t finish your brewed coffee? Save the rest in a sealed container in the fridge or freezer for a special iced treat. No need to pay up at $tarbucks when you can save a buck - or say 5 bucks??
- Use almost-empty condiment containers as bases for dressings and drizzles! For example, if your Sriracha Sauce is almost empty, add some mayo and lemon, shaky shaky, and you’ll have yourself a delicious aioli for your yummy Tuna Cakes or Fish Tacos. Or if the Dijon mustard container is running low and taking up much-coveted space in the ole’ ice box…don’t throw it away, add some honey and lemon and you’ve got yourself a delicious marinade for some Grilled Rosemary Lemon Chicken Thighs.
- Don’t forget to not only squeeze that lemon but zest the skin as well. Not ready to use it right away? Then freeze it in a freezer storage bag or a sealed container. I love to use lemon zest for gremolata (a flavorful mixture of garlic, zest and parsley to top meaty dishes like Osso Bucco.) Also, I like to add lemon zest it to salad or roasted veggies like this Roasted Parmesan Broccoli for a burst of added flavor. YUM!
- Did your French Baguette go stale? Step AWAY from the trash can! Cut it up into 1 inch squares, drizzle with olive oil, a little salt and pepper or even Parmesan cheese. And Abracadabra… Homemade croutons.✨ OR slice it up drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with some Parmesan cheese and bake at 400 for a few minutes. You’ll have some crispy, delicious crostinis to go with your Sun-Dried Tomato Goat Cheese Dip or Antipasti Tray. OR throw it in the food processor and you have enough breadcrumbs for these Italian Meatball Subs or this amazing Farmer's Market Meat Loaf.
- A recipe calls for 2 ounces of tomato paste, but the store only sells it in a 4-ounce can. No worries & no waste: freeze the remaining 2 ounces in resalable freezer bag for the next time you’ll need it.
- You need two tablespoons of chipotle peppers in adobe for these Cheesy Beer Brats and Fried Pickles but they are sold in a 5-ounce can. Use what you need, then separate the leftover peppers into portions that make sense and freeze in small resalable bags.
- Revive slightly wilted lettuce or leafy herbs in a large bowl full of cold water with a couple cups of ice cubes. The intense cold will revive your greens for yet another crispy salad. Or add it to your next juice or smoothie – the flavor is so mild you won’t notice it… but you’ll get the nutrients.
- Bake a fresh batch of cookies and freeze half of them ASAP. They will stay way fresher than just sitting on the counter, you’ll save yourself a few calories, and you’ll have cookies on hand for the next time some friends pop over unexpectedly.? Look at you…the host/hostess with the most/mostest.
5. Pay For Convenience Only When It’s Worth It To You!
The more involvement “other people” have in prepping the items you buy at the grocery store, the more you’ll pay. The more peeling, slicing, or chopping they’ve done for you, the more you will pay to cover the labor cost of all that “upstream value” that was added to the product before you purchased it. Sometimes it’s just not worth it.
- Buy fruit and veggies whole. The pre-cut versions cost more because the store has to add on labor costs of peeling, slicing, chopping, etc., to make it profitable for them. Watch a quick video and you’ll master chopping your own onion in seconds, without shedding a tear! It may take a few extra minutes to learn how, but it’s so worth it!
(Chopped red onion cost $6.83 per pound vs. whole red onions for $1.69 per pound. 1 large onion weighs almost one pound. That's about a $5 savings!! Cha Ching! Cha Ching!)
- If you own a food processor, buy cheese in block form and then shred it or grate it at home… have your food processor do the work for you. An added bonus: it’s healthier for you! Many cheese manufacturers use a powdered wood-pulp product to coat shredded cheese and keep it from sticking together. It’s supposed to be a health-neutral additive, but hey I’ll pass on the wood pulp!
6. Join A Membership Warehouse Club like Costco.
The produce and meat are usually a 30-40 percent savings from regular grocery store costs. Here are a few astounding comparisons I’ve done between Costco and my local grocery store’s pricing:
(5 ounces of organic spring mix lettuce cost $3.99 at the local grocer. 16 ounces of organic spring mix lettuce cost just $3.49 at Costco. That's a 73% savings! Mind-blowing I tell ya!)
In this little chart I compare my local grocery store's price to the price at Costco for the same amount or weight of each item.
Now a basic Costco membership costs $55/year. So using the costs above, in a "typical" grocery run (let's say: tomatoes, lettuce, cukes, peppers, apples, chicken breasts, ground beef, and a bottle of red and white wine), you would save over $43... you would almost fully cover the cost of your membership on your first grocery trip alone! I think you can see why I'm such a big fan of Costco.
(Boneless Skinless Chicken breast cost $5.99 a pound at the local grocery store. At Costco they cost $2.79 a pound. And that would be a 53% savings. Almost too good to be true - isn't it!)
I should also mention this bonus: in many states, Costco membership isn't even required to shop in their wine & liquor store... So if you did nothing else but wine-shopping, you would save a pretty penny on the fruit of the grape alone!
(2 pound of strawberries from the local grocery store cost $7.99. The same amount from Costco cost $3.79. That's a 53% savings! How is that even possible!???)
So there you have it folks. If you consistently follow all these tips, I would be absolutely stunned if you didn’t see some big savings on your grocery bill.
There are countless other ways to save money on your groceries, and I’d love to hear more from you about other money-savings ideas that have worked well for you… be sure to leave a comment with your ideas!
What money-savings tip do you use when buying groceries? Please share the wealth!