Best ideas for frugal food, whether at home or away
Other than housing, food is probably our biggest expense. From grocery shopping and family dinners out at
a restaurant, to school lunches and quick fast food meals eaten on the run on the way to soccer practice -
we spend a LOT of money on food!
How can you cut the amount of money that you spend on food and still eat well? There are lots of ways to
incorporate frugal food into your life.
Unless you eat out a lot, grocery shopping is probably a major monthly expense for you. Here are my
best tips for
frugal grocery shopping.
Meal planning ideas
can help you to save money by
and using the food that you have
on hand. Also see my
for more inexpensive family-friendly meal ideas.
What are your favorite meals
on a budget? Share them with us here!
Making your own can save you money - food that is more processed is more expensive. This can be as simple
as buying block cheese and slicing or grating it as needed. You can bake your own cookies, cakes and other
desserts. They will be so much tastier! And if you care about avoiding the additives and unhealthy
ingredients that some foods have, you have the added bonus of knowing exactly what is in that cake or loaf
For example, instead of buying instant oatmeal, buy the regular kind and cook it yourself. It can still be
easy, and you can sweeten it to your taste with the sweetener of your choice (I have always found the packets of instant oatmeal to be way too sweet).
from scratch, too - it is easy enough for my 14-year-old to do by himself, and
cheaper than buying the mix. They are also healthier, since we don't put any artificial ingredients
in them and use butter instead of hydrogenated oils. They are also quite delicious! And there is nothing like fresh hot
at home made just the way you like it!
Be smart about
saving with coupons
. Get a better deal by knowing the ins and outs of using coupons.
Pack your own
. Buying snacks in individual serving sized packages
is convenient, but a waste of money. For more frugal
, buy the larger packages of
pretzels, chips, cookies, etc. and pack
them in zip-top bags each day. Your cost per serving will be a fraction of what you would pay for the
individual serving packages.
Using a crock pot
is a smart way to save money and time when cooking for your family. It is so easy to
put the ingredients into the pot in the morning (or the night before) and turn it on. You will come home
from work to a home made dinner all ready and waiting for you! What a treat! See my crock pot page for
frugal recipes and tips for the crock pot.
Grow your own. If you like to use fresh herbs in your cooking, as many people do, you can save a substantial amount of money by learning to
grow your own herbs.
It is fun and easy and you will have fresh herbs on hand whenever you need them! (You can also save by
to use in cooking year-round.)
Join a Food Co-op. Many communities have food co-ops that charge a fee to join, but
will save you a lot of money in the long run. A co-op
is similar to a small grocery store and usually charges a yearly membership fee somewhere around $30.
Then you can shop there at discounted prices. Some allow members to save more by volunteering in the store
for a certain number of hours per month.
Join a CSA. A community-supported agriculture program is typically offered to a
limited number of members by a small local farm. It is like investing in a company except you are investing
in the farm. The members pay to join early in the year - January or February. The farm then uses this
money (typically from $400. to $700. per household) to pay for expenses for getting ready for planting.
When crops start coming in in the late spring or early summer, each member family start getting a bag a
week of fresh produce which continues throughout the summer and usually into the fall.
Going out to eat can be fun and relaxing, but costs a lot more than eating at home. You can often cook the
same foods at home for a fraction of the cost - and often it is better tasting, too! There are times, though
that you just want to treat yourself (and your family) and go out to eat. Here are some tips on
eating out without breaking the bank.
From Frugal Food back to Frugal Living Now Home