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.
Frugal Grocery Shopping: Unless you eat out most of the time, grocery shopping is probably a major monthly expense for you. Learn to shop more efficiently.
Saving with coupons: Learn to get a better deal by knowing the ins and outs of using coupons.
Meal planning ideas: Meal planning is a must for saving money when you cook meals at home. Follow these easy steps to create your own meal plan.
Using a crock pot: Frugal recipes and tips for crock pot meals. Come home from work to a homemade dinner all ready and waiting for you!
Grow your own herbs: Save substantially by starting a kitchen herb garden. Preserving herbs allows you to save and share your harvest. Some herbs are very expensive so if you do a lot of Mexican cooking, for example, growing cilantro yourself can easily save you a fortune each week.
Restaurant savings: When you want to treat yourself and your family to a meal out, use these tips to stay within your budget.
Making your own: Cooking from scratch 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 of bread! For example, instead of buying instant oatmeal, buy the regular kind and cook it yourself. It can still be quick and 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).
We make homemade pancakes 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 homemade pizza at home made just the way you like it!
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.