Saving on Groceries

Posted: April 6, 2011 at 8:09 pm

After my recent griping on grocery prices, my pal and fellow Team 4all teammate, Morgan from Life After Bagels, offered to write a guest post on the topic. She sent it at the perfect time, since it turns out I have suddenly been struck by the illness of demons. While I wallow in my misery, please check out her fantastic post! :)

Hello Faith Fitness Fun Readers! My name is Morgan and I blog at Life After Bagels. I'm one of Tina's 4all by Jofit team mates :)

Today I've got a post for you about: GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR GROCERY BUDGET. In January, I left my career and decided to go back to school full time. Luckily my boyfriend is amazingly supportive, but going from two incomes to one has forced us to be super smart with our pennies (Canadian pennies you may notice!)

Whether you've been forced into a tight budget situation, are wanting to find a way to save for something, or are just worried about the rising food costs, here's some sure ways to reduce your costs.

  • Make your coffee at home. This won't slash your grocery bill actually, but you're going to save a lot if you make coffee at home. We are a two cup a day type of family so we have our morning coffee with our handy dandy coffee pot, and the second cup from Mr Tim Hortons or Mrs Starbucks.

  • Trade something homemade for something packaged. We like our Cliff bars, Luna bars, Larabars, but those were the first thing to go because they were the most expensive for the least amount of food. Every Sunday I make muffins. Healthy muffins that is. It takes about 15 minutes to whip up a batch. I make sure to include oats or oat bran, nuts, and dried or fresh fruit or veggies. They get individually wrapped and put in the fridge or freezer and we take one per day for our lunches.

  • Trade eggs for flax meal substitute. When I hosted the Vegan For A Week challenge in February I was forced to try using flax meal instead of eggs in my baking. NO LIE - they work perfectly. Since I do a lot of baking and cooking (mostly muffins and pancakes), I have entirely substituted eggs for these uses. Now we only use eggs for eating eggs! Whisk together 1 tablespoon of flax meal and 3 tablespoons of water and let sit for about 10 minutes. Warning: don't whisk too hard!

  • Cook a whole chicken. I'm a vegetarian, but Brad eats some meat. Every once in a while we cook up a (very small) whole chicken and he uses it to add to stir fries, burritos, sandwiches for a few days. Much cheaper than just buying chicken breasts.

  • Make your own broth. You probably don't want to do this at the same time you're making homemade soup. Plan to do it just once a month and you'll have your own broth for weeks. One box of organic veggie broth usually goes for at least $3.99 in my neck of the woods.

  • Make your own soup. Now that you've got a freezer full of broth, you're ready to go. We used to buy one jar of butternut squash soup per week that costs $7.99, that's crazy!

  • Make your own tomato sauce. This started way before our budget got tight. After our grocery store stopped carrying our favourite sauce we couldn't find one that was low in sugar and salt, while also tasting good. I make 3-4 batches at a time and throw it in the freezer too.

It might seem like this will create a ton more work for you, but it barely adds to my overall food prep. Just make sure you do big batches and you'll be using your supplies for weeks. The additional benefit to making a lot of these regular grocery items yourself, is that they're way more fresh and way healthier. We're not hermits though, don't worry! And we do treat ourselves sometimes so here's a couple more saving money food tips:

  • Go out for lunch or dinner in a group. Depending on how many friends you can get together, call the restaurant and ask if they offer a group discount.

  • Walk to get your take out. This isn't really an option for us because we have no car. It's either walking or delivery and delivery is expensive. The local pizza places in our neighbourhood offer walk in specials so find out if yours does too.

Now you've got some great ideas to slash your grocery and food budget. I hope you'll visit me at Life After Bagels and you can email me any questions at morgan.shuker AT gmail.com .

Thanks, Morgan! Now you tell me – what ways do you like to save?

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33 Comments to “Saving on Groceries”
  1. Besides a going out for coffee as a treat every now & then, my husband and I make our morning coffee at home. We also buy the super cheap coffee beans from Trader Joe’s – so we really save money!

  2. I do most of those things! I love making my own marinara sauce – it’s one of my favorite things I make. I always make homemade soup, but I’ve never done my own broth. The kind at TJ’s is only $2.00, so it is rasonable enough. Great tips and great post!

  3. great ideas–we’re kind of in the same situation so I definitely sympathize!

    of course who can’t these days!

  4. Ohhh I am LOVING all of the tips — thank you so much for sharing this Morgan (and Tina!!!). I like to buy things and stock up when they’re on sale… if there’s no room in the kitchen (say it’s a pantry item) them I’ll just stick it in the laundry room! Works like a charm :)

  5. Melie says:

    I am really bad with my grocery budget, but I think that what saves me the most money is the fact that I don’t buy almost anything packaged or pre-made. This includes soups, frozen meals, chips, bars etc. I think that these are among the most expensive items in the store and the alternatives are both more economical and healthy. I am a caffeine addict, so I carry instant coffee packs in my bag and in the office. This way I only add water and it ends up being way cheaper. And I pack my lunch and snacks most of the days. This doesn’t reduce my grocery budget but it turned out a huge money saver overall…

  6. Lauren says:

    Love these tips, and I definitely use some of them as a poor college student. What helps is Costco trips with my mom every few months to buy beans/grains and more in bulk.

  7. Stephanie says:

    Oh my! You really did whisk that flax! Ha! Thanks for the tips. I also like to take a look at the reduced produce…slightly brown bananas taste better anyway!

  8. Lisa says:

    This is a great list!! I do the chicken thing and use the leftovers for soups and salads. Plus, starting in January I’ve stopped buying Starbucks. I brew my own coffee in a French press and I’ve already saved almost $80 this year!

  9. Lee says:

    It seems appropriate that I’m reading this while watching Extreme Couponing!

  10. Sarah says:

    Great tips! I also make my own veggie/turkey burgers which ends up being cheaper (and healthier) than buying Boca burgers, etc. My mom (lives near me) and I go shopping at Costco and we split the produce so we get lots of produce for fairly cheap.

  11. Marie says:

    Great post! I make everything in large batches and freeze it for easy go to meals that are cheap…..I also buy bulk fruit when it is on sale and freeze it, grapes are my favorite to do this with b/c they are really expensive sometimes. I also have a home garden that saves me about $50 a week in the summer and 20-30 in the fall and spring months. We eat lots of the same produce for awhile but I like the challenge of trying to make something different with the same thing.

    • I’m starting a garden this summer for the first time but I’m a total newbie and will need as much luck as possible. Any tips?

      • Marie says:

        your best bet is to check your soil and use lots of lime for fertilizing…I also have a compost pile that I use to fertilize but miracle grow makes a pretty good organic one…..and grits kill ants…we have lots of ants here in GA and they attack everything… so I use lots of grits…I buy them in bulk at a local place for $5 for 10lbs but I will have more tips on my blog throughout the year as well

  12. Shannon says:

    I too have noticed an increase in my grocery expenditures. The best thing I did for my budget was to stop buying processed food. I now make most things at home from ketchup to nut butters to bread. Yes, it’s absolutely more work but I love spending time in my kitchen so it doesn’t hurt my feelings. Plus things are healthier without the additives and preservatives so pervasive in packaged food. I also buy most/all of my dry goods from the bulk store instead of the grocery store. This includes all my nuts and seeds (and I eat a lot of both as a vegan), flour, sugar, pasta, grains, herbs and spices and dried beans. It means I can buy as much as I need and typically saves me money per serving.

  13. Coco says:

    One tip that you probably follow but didn’t say on its own is to pack your own lunch. I almost always bring my lunch to work (usually yummy leftovers) and that probably saves me $10/day.

    If you do have a Starbucks habit, register and use a Starbucks card so you can at least get those discounts and a free drink for every 15 purchases.

    I have switched to buying frozen veggies in the “steam in the bag” packages (my store brand version is fine). They often go on sale for $2 for a 12-16 oz bag, and have elminated the problem of veggies going limp in the fridge because our evening plans changed. So, no waste!

    • Oh yeah definitely bring my lunch. I used to do leftovers when I was working, but now I do more sandwiches.

      I think our Starbucks card must have different features in Canada! but I do take advantage of it if I hang out there doing homework. The card gives you free refills of basic beverages during the same visit.

  14. I love these tips!

    We save by using coupons, shopping around for sales, eating “meatless” a few times per week, and by meal planning — that way I don’t buy food that goes to waste, it all has a plan!

  15. Great list! I also do the muffin thing, and make our own granola and granola bars.

  16. Great tips! I’m always looking for ways to slim down my grocery budget and I agree with all of those especially making your own bars instead of buying them. I often stock up on my essentials when they are on special offer too as I know I’ll end up eating them eventually!

  17. This is crazy. We already do these things and didn’t knew we are that cheap :) .

    Making your own soup it’s awsome. I freeze the liquid into little bottles and then add it in mashed potatoes, in stews or for falvouring a sauce.
    All my relatives stolled this tip from me.

    I will add to go more in nature instead of going in a club to dance. We pack things us saturday morning and go hiking or just explore the surrundings. We get to talk and relax while seeing the nature coming alive.

    Also, If you re a healthy person who enjoys going to gym, I recomand what I do : I bought weights, a jumpe rope and other small stuff from cheaper grocerie stores and made my own home gym. The trick is to stay commited . I’m good for know!

  18. Love the muffin tip-Cliff bars are so expensive, so this is a great one!

  19. runblondie26 says:

    Couponing! There’s not just for saving money on processed junk. You can even find them for produce and organic items.

    I have a pantry full of Cliff, Luna, and Powerbars on hand for fast snacks. I got them all for free combining coupons and sales.

  20. runblondie26 says:

    Couponing! They’re not just for saving money on processed junk. You can even find them for produce and organic items.

    I have a pantry full of Cliff, Luna, and Powerbars on hand for fast snacks. I got them all for free combining coupons and sales.

  21. runblondie26 says:

    I wish I could check out those crazies on the TLC show, but we don’t have cable. Saving our pennies there :)

  22. Stacy says:

    Great post! Thanks for all the tips, Morgan!

  23. I have found that making a meal plan and a shopping list based on the plan usually helps me save a lot of money. That way I only buy what we are going to use that week! I still have some pantry and refrigerator staples, but cutting down on how much I buy without a purpose certainly helps!

  24. Karen says:

    Those are some really great tips! We use coupons often to save money. We use coupons for food, restaurants, services…pretty much anything. The trick to coupons though is to only clip coupons on items you would normally buy/use. There are lots of coupons out there but just because it’s a good deal doesn’t mean it’s the right deal for you if it’s not a product/service you will use!

  25. [...] Down our Grocery Bill from The Avid Appetite Grocery Budget from Yes I Want Cake Saving on Groceries from Faith, Fitness, Fun Getting it Under Control from AliGirl Cooks Eat Well, Spend Less from [...]

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