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Saving Money on Food

There are many creative ways to trim your grocery bill. This guide is about saving money on food.
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August 25, 2015

I've been on my own now for four years, a single parent turned "empty nester", and living on a disability pension. Here are my tips.

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When I shop for meats, I buy large roasts on sale: pork, whole chickens, sausages, ground meats, etc. These are cut to meal sized portions and plunked into freezer baggies with spices; Thai, Mexican, Italian, you name it! I label the baggies and toss them in the freezer.

I've done the same buying cartons of egg-whites when they are marked down. Mix-up spices, chives, etc, pour into butter sprayed muffin containers, bake, cool and put into baggies. Of course, the freezer is next!

My farming is in containers and small garden patches. I have celery and cabbage from rooted previous purchases (eaten first of course), carrots, cucumbers, eggplant and yellow zucchini. Yum! This year I got a bag of lovely large tomatoes from friends.

Foraging is something to take advantage of, and I do! Wild apples and pears from a couple of old trees in a field where I walk my dogs. The apples are tart and together they make a wicked sauce, into my freezer in small containers of course.

Life is all about challenges, but I make the best and have a good time with what I've got!

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Comment Was this helpful? 14

Sandy Baker2 found this helpful
May 8, 2006

Do you think that you don't eat out much but can not figure out just where you money is going? It's time to do an experiment to find out just how much you are eating out, how much it is costing you and how much you could have saved by making that meal at home. Did it save you time? Probably not. Did it give you a healthier meal? Most definitely not. So, what's the point in going out to dinner again?
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Meet Ann

Ann is a very busy woman. She is married to Aaron and the two have three children. Since they are working most of the time, they often find themselves ordering out, ordering in or eating at a restaurant a few times per week. Yet, is this costing them anything?

To find out, Ann decided to track how much they spent on eating out in just one month. In fast food stops, the family would spend about $20-$25. If they went to a family style sit down dinner, though, they would spend from $40 up to $60 or more. If they ordered in, it could range from $20 to $35. Al in all, it was costly. In one months time, Ann determined that they were spending about $375 per month on eating out.

But, this doesn't tell us if in fact it would save money to make foods at home. To figure this out, Ann decided to try to make some of their favorite dishes at home to see how much it would cost them.

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The kids love chicken fingers, fries and grilled cheese. Sometimes they ate pasta too. Here's the breakdown:

To eat this meal at home, they would have saved considerably. Ann found that the foods she ate at home were also less expensive to make than the fast food location.

Time? Where's The Time?

If you are not sure that you can find the time to make dinner every night, or you feel that you are just too tired to do it, you need to consider a few simple solutions. Here are some that will reduce the number of times you eat out.

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How much are you spending by eating out? Find out and start saving your money!

Comment Was this helpful? 2

By 6 found this helpful
June 25, 2012

I have a restricted diet. I admit sometimes it get boring to eat the same type of food so I have been trying to change it up some lately. Summer is the perfect season to get fruits and veggies, but even frozen things can be fresh. I have found it's the texture of things you miss most. I have a couple so far I love. They save you tons of money over already made, as well as being quick.

I miss popcorn. If you do it on the stove, it takes unwanted oil. As for microwave popcorn, if you ever look what's in that bag most wouldn't want to eat it. I saw on TV how to make fast, microwave popcorn that is organic. You buy brown paper bags and organic popcorn. Put 1/4 cup in bag, fold over end and place in microwave. Each microwave is different so stand near until you hear corn stop popping. Mine takes 2 minutes for 1/4 cup, and every corn kernel popped!

You can add what you like that is fresh, not that hydrated stuff inside ones you buy. Mozzarella cheese is my favorite. Try cinnamon and sugar if you like sweet, Italian Seasoning, Creole Seasoning or butter. This way you get to choose what you are adding. The cost, even if you buy it at Dollar Store, is much cheaper and the taste is way better. So easy and it tastes great with no guilt.

Make your own trail mix by putting oatmeal, coconut and almonds in oven for about 30 minutes on a cookie tray. About 350 degrees F on a lower rack is where I did mine. Add raisins, dried cranberries, dried pineapple; really whatever you are hungry for.

One my best friends had told me about a quick dinner when peppers went on sale (10 for $10). I don't eat red meat so I used turkey instead. I also used brown rice. You can put anything else you want in the filling: onions, seasonings, garlic. Once it's mixed together with diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, you put it in bright peppers which are in season. I filled cleaned out red peppers and then put them in oven for 30 minutes. It's up to you if you like softer peppers or not. Once it done to how you like it, take it out and enjoy dinner. For me, I was able to freeze 7 meals, and give one away! All organic, fast, so good and saved me money.

Whatever is on sale at the market is what I am going "change it up" with all summer long. Buying organic and trying to be healthy doesn't have to get boring. Not even what you drink. A watermelon has brought me such delight. You can take the juice and freeze it (cubes, paper cups, etc.). Add that to a fresh container of water with lemon in it. It's amazing how fast, easy and wonderful tasting watermelon lemonade tastes. Putting it in empty water bottles mean you can take it on the go. With all the cucumbers, lemons, limes, oranges and apples out there on sale, I promise not going be bored anytime in next few months.

Enjoy your summer and try new things. Saving money is an additional bonus. Try some of these ideas and you'll be surprised what you come up with.

By Luana M. from San Diego, CA

Comment Was this helpful? 6

By 0 found this helpful
June 14, 2007

One way to lower your food bill is by shopping at several stores, but not just grocery stores. If you are fortunate enough to have a bakery outlet store in your area, you can find great deals on everything from bread and buns to tortillas and cakes.

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April 16, 20050 found this helpful

Don't shop on impulse. Skip impulse food buys. Stop & consider the size of your family. Will this product go to waste by not getting eaten? I read recently where 25% of food purchases get thrown out.

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By 0 found this helpful
February 15, 2013

I have 3 boys who already eat a lot. I've found a few ways to "stretch" foods to help with our grocery bill.

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By 0 found this helpful
February 15, 2013

My family drinks 1% milk. My husband accidentally bought whole milk. My children complained that it was "thick" and they didn't like it at all. I diluted it with water and they were able to drink it.

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By 1 found this helpful
March 3, 2010

I found a site at the US Dept. of Agriculture called the recipe finder. If you're trying to stretch your food dollars this is an excellent place to find recipes.

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June 12, 2007

It's summer, grow stuff! You don't need a garden. I grow vegetables in containers outside my back door. Some is eaten as it's picked, the rest becomes soups, sauces, cakes, etc. for the freezer.

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February 24, 20050 found this helpful

A good way to cut down on your grocery bill is to eat more recipes containing beans, grains and rice instead of meat. Beans, grains and rice are much less expensive per pound than most kinds of meat.

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June 21, 20000 found this helpful

I know how hard it is to get the food budget under control. I have made changes over time, some have worked well, some are so-so.

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By 2 found this helpful
April 14, 2010

I have gone to the library used book sales and have purchased some Better Homes and Gardens cookbooks. They are older ones, but have good recipes for great meals, desserts and ways to stretch a budget.

I also continue to cook a large meal and freeze some of it in individual meal containers. My husband is a truck driver and gone several days to 10 days at a time. He is able to eat a home cooked meal and saves a lot of money eating out. He also collects points on several cards when filling up his truck that allows him to eat out with little or no money when he wants a restaurant meal. I also make homemade banana bread in smaller loafs that he is able to take with him. (They freeze nicely)

I do a lot of baking from scratch. I know there are some that don't do this but it is economical, especially in hard times when money is tight. I have a stockpile from the past that helps and just have to replace when low.

By kellymbr from Idaho Falls, ID

Comment Was this helpful? 2
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