10 Frugal Ways to Save on Food

save on foodAccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, food is the third largest monthly expenditure families have after housing and transportation. With a little planning, you can save on food costs by trying some of these easy tips.

1. Eat Local. Locally grown food is not only fresher and tastes better, it is better for the environment and your purchases help support local farmers.

2. Shop on the Edge. Shop the perimeter at your grocery store for healthier and less expensive ways to save on food costs. Most grocery stores place fresh foods like produce, meat and seafood, bakery, and dairy on the perimeter and processed foods in the center aisles.

3. Free Breakfast. IKEA offers a free breakfast every Monday before 11:00 AM and 99 cents the rest of the week. If you are there over the lunch hour you might want to try the North Atlantic Saithe crusted white fish served with mashed potatoes and carrots – $4.99

4. Shop Less. The concept is a simple one, the less you are in a store the less you will spend. Make a weekly menu and shop once per week. Grocery shoppers spend almost 50% more than planned due to impulse purchases so stick to your shopping list!

5. Buy Off-Brand. Many times store brands contain the same ingredients as name brand products but cost much less.

6. Use Coupons. By spending about 30 minutes during the week comparing sales listed in weekly flyers, you can cut save some serious cash at the grocery store. By combining coupons with items that are on sale, you can save 50% or more.

7. Take Advantage of Price Match. Take the weekly grocery store ads with you on your weekly trip and ask the store manager to price match. You might want to kindly mention that WalMart price matches.

8. Shop the Bottom Shelf. Grocery stores put the most expensive items on the shelves at eye level for a reason. Many lesser known brands are on other shelves but the best values are usually found on the bottom shelf.

9. Use Unit Price. When shopping, compare the unit value of products instead of price. Many products are packaged to appear as if you are getting a good value when in fact the actual product size is smaller. Instead, look for the unit price on the shelf label and compare these prices for one of the best ways to save on food.

10. Ask for Manager's Special. Manager's specials are perhaps the best way to save on food costs. The best values are often found in the meat department as meat that is close to it's sell by date is marked down up to 75% off. Look for shopping carts filled with manager special items near the checkout line for additional ways to save on food.

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29 Responses to 10 Frugal Ways to Save on Food

  1. Baby Boomer Super Saver 10/12/2018 at 8:55 pm #

    Lots of great tips here. I always check the price per unit when shopping! Eating local not only saves money, but the food is fresher and more delicious. A tomato picked green so it can travel 200 miles just doesn’t taste the same as a vine-ripened tomato from a nearby farm stand. I also grow some herbs, veggies & fruit in pots and raised beds in my back yard, which saves a ton of money.

  2. Paul 06/02/2016 at 7:39 am #

    I look at the cost per ounce before I buy, sometimes the sale items are not such a great buy!

  3. Julie@ChooseBetterLife 06/01/2016 at 8:54 pm #

    Great tips! So many people don’t realize that a lot of stores already break down the cost per ounce for you on the tag. Kroger/Fry’s even does it for the sale prices.

  4. Aspiring Millionaire 03/17/2014 at 10:34 pm #

    Great tips. I shop locally for fresh produce, stick to the edges of the supermarket when I go in and agree on the shopping less. Instead of ducking to the shops I will make whatever I have stretch. I keep long life milk on hand so we never need to pop down for milk. It is not as good as fresh, but it does the job and saves money both on petrol for the trip down and on impulse buys.

  5. Paul 06/22/2013 at 8:34 am #

    Wish we had a local Farmer’s Market, it would be great to pick up fresh produce for meals!

  6. Tammy R 06/22/2013 at 7:07 am #

    Shop the bottom shelf? I had never heard this. I have to tell my grocery maven (CJ). Perhaps he already knows and that is why I see him lying face down when I come around the corner into the cracker aisle! We are so excited to be getting a farmer’s market and hope they will give our grocery store a reason to lower produce prices. Fujis are delicious, nutritious, and expensive! Thank you for putting this together, Paul!

  7. Paul 12/04/2012 at 7:08 pm #

    It makes sense that buying fresh foods is cheaper and healthier however stopping at the grocery store and cooking dinner from scratch is a little overwhelming for most families. The trick is to find a few recipes for quick and healthy meals, sounds like a great idea for a website Melissa! 😉

  8. Melissa 12/04/2012 at 9:50 am #

    Great tips! I especially like shop the perimeter and buy local. We bought a CSA share this summer and found it to be a great savings. Also, for beef and pork, we buy direct from the farmer and save significantly over grocery store prices, plus we know how the animal has been raised.

  9. Doug 11/29/2012 at 8:15 am #

    Along with everything else, what saves us the most is where we shop. In the Bay Area there is a chain called Grocery Outlet. They specialize in overruns, closeouts, change of packaging, and they buy it up and sell at a huge discount. Of course they have all of the staples you would need also. The bottom line is that if I shop the majors and I fill the cart, I can count on spending about $350 to 400. I do the same thing at GO and I fill the cart for about $150. Once I do my major shopping, I hit the majors for their deals on meat, fish, and poultry. All things being equal, I feed a family of three for about $60-75 a week.

  10. Olivia 11/25/2012 at 6:54 pm #

    Pay with cash. If you don’t have it you won’t spend it.

  11. Sabz 11/25/2012 at 11:24 am #

    Also the old standby. Don’t go on an empty stomach. It’s true!

  12. D.S. @ Bankruptcy Alberta 11/21/2012 at 12:35 am #

    Hi Paul,

    Indeed, you can find ways to save on food preparations since this is one of the biggest household expenses for most families. The bottom line is to plan your expenditures to avoid going overboard. You can reduce your weekly shopping list by taking away all unnecessary items. Taking advantage of price matches is also a good idea.

  13. Paul 10/31/2012 at 5:50 am #

    I try and make a single trip to the grocery store each week and only buy what I have on my list. Doesn’t always work but I try!

  14. Tie the Money Knot 10/31/2012 at 4:03 am #

    Good tips, there are many ways that people can save on food. One would be to avoid getting tempted to drive far to shop at a seemingly cheaper store. Getting to the grocery store, for most of us, requires driving…which requires gas. Total costs can often paint a different picture!

  15. Dylann Andre 10/25/2012 at 3:39 pm #

    Great list! Whenever we go shopping and buy canned goods (which we think are cheap), we always end up paying more than what we expected. Last time, we tried buying fresh food like local veggies, we paid less than what we expected! It really helps to buy these products, they are cheap and healthy. Thanks for this!

  16. Crystal @ Get A Copywriter 10/25/2012 at 4:58 am #

    Great tips! I hadn’t thought about shopping on the edge, but that is very true. Mr. BFS and I try to save our food budget by only buying what we need or want in advance when we make our list. That keeps a lot of crud out of our basket. And yes, finding a great manager’s special on steak is when we stock up the deep freeze. 🙂

  17. Paul 10/25/2012 at 5:27 am #

    Using ground turkey instead of ground beef is also a healthy way to cut down on food costs. Tastes great in chilli!

  18. Paul 10/25/2012 at 5:26 am #

    I try to stick with a list, it’s the easiest way to stick to the budget!

  19. H 10/23/2012 at 2:41 pm #

    Great list! I would add creating a menu plan and sticking to it will help you save on food. This way you know exactly what you need from the grocery store and you can plan subsequent meals from left-overs from the previous day.

    For example, I love Sam’s or Costco’s rotisserie chickens. I would get that one night, serve it with rice and mixed veggies on the side. But, I know those chickens are huge and we would have plenty of left-overs. So, the next night, I will shred the chicken meat and make chicken noodle soup. If there’s more chicken meat, I’ll make chicken quesadilla to go with the soup (if not, a simple cheese quesadilla is fine).

    Also, reducing the meat your recipe calls for will save you money. I usually do it with ground beef on spaghetti. My recipe calls for 1 lb of ground beef and although I will brown all the ground beef at once (saves energy and less mess), I will only use 1/2 of it for making spaghetti and saving the other 1/2 for tacos or something else.

  20. Thomas S. Moore 10/23/2012 at 1:56 pm #

    One of the biggest savers for my wife and I was getting a membership at Sam’s. This has by far been the best way for us to save as well as getting our fruits and veggies from the local market. Off brands do help with savings as well and we need to get on this couponing thing to save even more.

  21. Canadian Budget Binder 10/22/2012 at 9:13 pm #

    One point you made caught my eye and that was to shop the bottom shelf. You are so right. Marketing in the grocery store is a science and will always be the best is in your face. Always look up and always look down for the best deals! It gets easier over time once you train your eye to do this but for most it’s common to go straight for the middle. Cheers Mr.CBB


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