So since a lot of us are trying to budget I save, I thought I would share my strategies with you to help you spend less money on food. Here are some strategies we use
1. Buy food according to food groups.
If you like berries - look for the cheapest berries since berries have different prices based on the season and time and quality or availability of imported food. For example - berries at the grocery store by my house have changed by up to 2 dollars or more in the last few weeks alone. If you like meat - look at which types of meat are discounted in comparison to others. If you want to buy veggies - look at what veggies are cheaper. If you select your berry, your fruit, your veggie and your meat based on price and not based on what you planned to buy, you can save money. I find I save on veggie platters by buying them 24-48 hours before their expiration date and even though this might mean I have to throw out their tomatoes - I still saved 80% on the cost of my veggie platter.
2. Look up recipes online.
We used to spend between $2.00 - $6.00 on shrimp cocktail sauce - until I realized I could make my own for a lower price if I were to buy the ingredients for it and then have a continuous supply of available cocktail sauce for 2 years on hand which would be cheaper than buying it at the store by purchasing the ingredients and then making it at home.
3. Buy your own utensils.
For example - if you like zucchini noodles - buy your own veggie spiralizer so you can make your own. If you like lasagna - buy your own grater so you can grate your own cheese and not buy grated cheese from the store. if you like coffee - buy your own coffee grinder so you don't have to buy pre-ground coffee beans. If you like meat and don't have money for a stove - you can buy a meat cooker at wal-mart for around $60 dollars. You can also buy temperature preserving utensils that conserve both heat and cold so that you can leave your lunch out of the fridge for several hours when you go to work and not worry about it going bad. This is great if you want to pack a sandwich for a meal.
4. Do some extra work.
I realized today that the pre-washed, pre-selected, brand name radishes cost almost twice as much as the regular radishes. Also if you are wiling to shop at more than one super market - you can save on groceries by going to cheapest options at each store. When shopping at different stores - order them in a linear pattern from furthest to closest so that you save on gas when doing so and try shopping on days when the food is recently restocked so that what you eat is more fresh.
5. Buy foreign vegetables.
I eat a lot of foods that aren't typical in the North American diet like chives or eggplant and because these foods are not common with North Americans, they are cheaper since the demand for them is lower. Try consulting an ethnic recipe book at the library for suggestions on foreign vegetables you can buy that may be cheaper than regular vegetables.
6. Shop at ethnic grocery stores.
I will tell you that I was told to eat hawthorn berries at age 12 because the doctors realized I had liver problems. A 2 month supply costs about $60 dollars on amazon but if you were to go to the chinese grocery store to buy sweetened hawthorne berry candy - you could get a 2 month supply for less than $10 dollars. You can also buy dried cuttle fish or squid from a chinese super market for $1.00 - $4.00 but if you were to buy squid from a european grocery store - they would probably charge you $10 - $15 dollars. Likewise - water melon seeds can also be purchased - a 2 month supply for $4.00 at a Chinese grocery store. You can also buy on the go foods like flavoured broad beans or shrimp chips for $1.00 - $2.00 - these foods are enough for 2-4 meals and don't require any cooling so you can carry them on the go rather than buying lunch when you are at school or work.
7. Dr. Oz recommended eating sardines if you can't afford other types of omega 3 in your diet.
They are healthier than other forms of canned fish and are usually not too expensive. You can also buy flaxseed oil which contains very high amounts of omega 3 or flaxseeds in general and then grind them yourself for the health benefits and omega 3 that it contains. This is cheaper than buying more expensive forms of omega 3 like salmon.
8. Buy foods in bulk.
You can buy around 4 pounds of rice from a Chinese super market for around $4.00 and that will last you around 8 months. This is way cheaper than the smaller packages of rice that wal-mart sells for $8.00 which are around the same quality as the rice you get at cheaper grocery stores. You can also get cheap lentils and neither pre-cooked version require refrigeration so you don't have to overstock your fridge. If you order canned fish on amazon - they might offer free shipping if you buy a large supply. Costco is also great for buying food in bulk at lower prices and get rebates when you spend enough money. Today they sent my parents a $180 rebate in the mail which is 3x the cost of a membership to shop there.
9. Use limited ingredients in your food.
When I make salad at home - I use as few ingredients as possible because its cheaper that way. For example - my salads are usually just spinach and red wine vinegar with some ripened avocados and sometimes no avocados at all. It tastes amazing with avocados and isn't too expensive since its only 3 ingredients. Likewise - you can make tomato and egg soup which tastes very good and only uses tomatoes, eggs, salt and vegetable oil or you can make your own pasta using canned tomatoes and some noodles. I know a guy who claims to do this and spend $4.00 a week on pasta and not eat any other foods during the week making his weekly grocery bill $4.00 a week.
10. Use cheap recipes.
One meal I like is a sandwich or pita with extra lean ham, a slice of cheddar cheese and mayonnaise. I spend about $8.00 a week on the ingredients I need to make 8 of these sandwiches and they taste amazing. Another thing is a meat, cheese, green leaves and breaded sandwich is also cheap - even if you make your own bread with a bread maker or buy the healthier and more expensive types of bread. Noodles with some condiments like black vinegar mixed with peanut butter are also cheap and taste amazing!