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Friday, August 5, 2011

How I Save Money on Food

Farmer's Markets: Find out where these happen in your area and go! In my experience, the produce is usually very cheap with added bonuses of fresh, possibly organic, and supportive of local economy! However, I recommend asking the price before you buy. There could be a product that is harder to grow or less available or whatever and cost more. You can sometimes haggle with a farmer or get a great deal if it's something that will go bad soon, they have too much of, or because you are a repeat customer! Bring cash and bags. If possible, sign up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). 
Other posts about Farmer's Markets: Farmer's Market Haul #1, Farmer's Market Haul #2

Coupons: Even if you eat very little packaged food, there is still a coupon out there you can use! I found one recently for bagged baby spinach which I buy every week! We do not get newspapers, the typical coupon go-to, so I print them all online. I use a coupon binder to organize. There are many coupon blogs out there, even organic ones, to alert you as to newly available printable coupons. Find out your store's policies on doubling and stacking to maximize your savings.  
Future Post with More Information
Storing coupons in clear inserts with labeled tabs

Rewards Clubs: Take advantage of extra sales or print extra coupons. Be careful you are not signing up for a charge card unless that is your intention. They will also get you discounts but with bigger obligations.

Sales: Find out what is on sale at your stores and shop strategically. Look at newspaper inserts, websites, and coupon blogs. Also check out the clearance/discontinued sections. Find and use coupons on sale items- you may end up getting some for free!

Stock Pile/Store/Freeze: You will end up with many items that you will not use immediately if you shop sales and with coupons. Select a way to store and organize your nonperishable edibles in a stockpile. For anything in my kitchen cupboard for which I have duplicates, I store those in shelves in my laundry room. Store other extras in the freezer- great way to enjoy summer fruits and veggies in winter and to have ready-to-eat foods on hand.

Buy In Season: The least expensive produce is the produce that is growing currently in your area. Fruit and veggies out of season are probably grown far away so you are paying for transportation or grown less naturally like with a greenhouse or extreme fertilizers and pesticides  which adds to the cost. We buy a lot of food from because the prices are usually lower than in stores with retail costs and we get prime shipping which is free and arrives in two-days. With, you can buy in bulk sizes for extra cheap or single items. Additionally savings are possible if you choose Subscribe and Save and receive an item on a regular schedule for 15% less cost. We also use a Rewards Credit Card and get points on purchases which add up to gift cards.

Indoor aeroponic planter with herbs
Garden: Grow your own food! This can be done anywhere. We use our apartment balcony, but you can grow indoors in pots by a window or door! We also have an indoor aeroponic planter. Seeds are very cheap and you can be in control of getting organic/heirloom but seedlings and started plants can be inexpensive also and save time.Other posts about Gardening: Sprouts, Heirloom Tomato, Starting to Flower, Transplanting, Starting to Fruit 

Buy In Bulk: Large amounts of something are bound to be cheaper! If you buy from bulk bins like I find at my local organic store, you are also saving money on packaging/containers. Bring your own bag and fill by the pound. I usually get bulk grains, legumes, and other staples but you can find snacks, desserts, even oils! Or, buying bulk can mean buying many packages at once ala Costco. I buy huge bags of dried herbs and seasonings from and refill small shakers as needed. 

Meal Planning: Make a plan for what you will cook and eat that week, or at least your dinners. This way, you can make a solid shopping list and stick to it rather than making spontaneous purchases. You can also use up what you already have, especially before it turns bad.
Other posts about Meal Planning: Week of 7/17, Week of 7/24Week of 7/31
Future Post with More Information

Homemade Food: Cook for yourself! Packaged prepared foods are most costlier than individual ingredients. Make large quantities to enjoy leftovers and freeze for future meals. You also ingest less sodium and preservatives. Recipes are available for free online. We rarely eat at restaurants and will occasionally get carry-out or delivery food for which you end up tipping less and spending less on extras like drinks. 
Other posts about Homemade Food: Meal Photos #1, Meal Photos #2, Eggplant Parmesan, Smoothie, Popcorn, Potato Tacos, Quinoa Burgers, Hummus
Bulk nuts, seeds, and fruits to mix up trail mix
Homemade muffins- sunflower seed butter and chocolate chips

Reusable Bags: Many stores will offer discounts of five or ten cents for each reusable bag used- those savings can really add up! Reusable bags can be purchased for little money, gotten for free at events and especially if they display advertising, or you can make your own! We have awesome cloth produce bags from my mother-in-law. Make sure to wash your bags often as they can accumulate bacteria. 

Avoid the Oven: When cooking, you will use a lot less energy by opting for the microwave or the toaster over. The conventional over and burners lose a lot of heat that does not go to your food and cost a lot more. If you are going to use the oven, try to make all your week's dishes at once to capitalize on the heat and experiment with not preheating and turning off the oven five minutes before cook time is over. 

Freecycle: Yep! Food items are sometimes posted on Freecycle and they are free to pick up. People clear out their pantries when they move. I posted some food items I was no longer allowed to eat when I found out I'm pregnant.
Other post about Freecycle: Favorite Reuse Sites

And, of course, Purchase Few or No Animal Products: Meat, dairy, and eggs are some of the priciest food items. Unfortunately, the high price does not necessarily mean quality or fair wages for those who produced the products. Besides the other benefits, avoiding them will save you money. It is also helpful that I haven't had alcohol in eight months and Ian drinks very little. Plus, most alcohol contains or is made with animal products. Eww!

    Coming Soon: How I Save Money on Energy and Household

    Please add your tips to the comments! Thanks!


    1. I am a new follower from the weekend blog hop. I am looking forward to seeing the recipes that you have. Most of the items that I have call for exactly the same ingredients (very limited) and get boring so I keep stopping the vegan lifestyle.

    2. I am so interested in vegan cuisine since i am trying my best to eat as healthy as i can. Love the sesame seed and chocolate chip muffin recipe, i can't wait to try it!

      Following from a blog hop.