The USDA estimates that the average family of four spends anywhere from $146 to $289 per week on food. That’s a pretty wide range when you think about, which suggests that if your weekly food budget is closer to the upper end of that figure, there’s no reason you couldn’t lower your food costs and save a considerable amount of money each month!
If you’re looking for ways to save money on your food costs, you’ve come to right place. I’m sharing some of my favorite frugal food tips to help you cut costs, save money, and eat well while you’re at it.
13 Frugal Food Tips For Eating Well On A Budget
1. Take Food With You
Keep some sensible snacks in your car for unexpected hunger attacks so you can tide yourself over without stopping at a drive-thru or convenience store. If you know you’ll be running errands all day or you have a full day of appointments, pack a small cooler with healthy snacks, sandwiches, and fruit to take with you.
2. Turn Eating At Home Into An Experience
Just because eating at home is a sensible option for saving money doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Make it more enjoyable by clearing off your table, putting a nice tablecloth and some candles out, and making it a place you look forward to sitting down to eat.
Dinner can be a valuable time to connect with your family, so create your own dinnertime traditions and customs that make it feel special. The more enjoyable you can make the experience of eating at home, the more likely you’ll be to keep doing it!
3. Buy And Freeze In-Season Herbs
Buy fresh herbs when they’re in season so they’ll not only taste their best, but they’ll be at their lowest price too. After washing your bunch of herbs, let it dry and then put the whole thing in a freezer bag and stick it in your freezer. To use them, to just chop off as much as you need.
4. Grow An Herb Or Vegetable Garden
As far as growing your own food goes, growing fresh herbs is one of the best ways to save money. Not only can you harvest herbs more frequently across a longer period of time than vegetables, but herbs are always more expensive than vegetables at the the grocery store, so you’ll start saving money as soon as your herbs are big enough to harvest.
5. Blend And Freeze Greens
Blend fresh spinach and a bit of water to form a paste, then freeze the paste in ice cube trays or silicone molds. Frozen spinach cubes are great for adding a nutritious boost to smoothies, and you can toss them into soups or stews too.
6. Make Use Of Your Freezer
In general, there’s no better way to save money on food than by making good use of your freezer. Check out these 20 foods you can freeze to make sure you’re making good use of yours, and before you throw something out, stop and ask yourself, “Can I freeze this instead?”
7. Transform Your Leftovers
There are all sorts of creative ways to turn leftover food into another meal (and even another one after that!) For example, you could load up on veggies when you’re at the store, then chop them up and put together a delicious salad one night.
The following night, you could use the leftover chopped veggies in a stir fry. And if you had leftover stir fry, you could use it in a soup by adding broth, a can of beans, more veggies, etc. Making the most of your leftovers will always save you money and time.
8. Make Pantry Staples
Making things you’d normally buy in a package can save you plenty of money over time, and it’s often healthier too. Check out these 10 pantry staples that are easy to make at home.
9. Pack Your Lunches
If you, your spouse, or your kids or grandkids eat elsewhere during the day while attending school or work, packing a lunch is always going to be a more affordable option than buying whatever’s available. Get inspiration for delicious packed lunches here, then learn how to keep sliced apples from turning brown while you’re at it.
10. Make More Meat-Free Meals
Meat is often the priciest component of a homemade meal, so skipping meat on a regular basis can be a great way to save money. And meat-free doesn’t have to mean less tasty or less filling—just ask these tasty meat-free recipes:
- One-Pot Zucchini, Black Beans and Rice
- Rainbow Stir Fry
- One-Pot Veggie Risotto
- Tomato Basil Blender Soup
- Smoky Split-Pea Soup
11. Stick To Your List
When you go grocery shopping, make sure to stick to what’s on your shopping list. You can also avoid temptation by sticking to the outer perimeter of the store as much as you can. (The produce, meat, and dairy products are normally located around the edge of the store, while the inner aisles are full of tempting treats and more processed foods.)
12. Plan Ahead
If last minute ideas and impulse purchases are often the undoing of your carefully budgeted food expenses, it’s important to have a clear and well thought out plan before you even leave the house. Here is the easiest way to make a grocery shopping plan:
- Take a look at the weekly ad for your preferred grocery store and find out what’s on sale.
- Scope out your fridge, freezer, and pantry to see what you already have on hand and start thinking about how you could use those foods. Pay special attention to anything that’s going to expire soon.
- With sales and your current food stock in mind, plan your meals out for the coming week. Consider using my weekly meal plan template to give your planning session some structure.
- Write your shopping list based on your meal plan for the week.
13. Don’t Forget Your Produce
Keep an eye on your produce in the fridge. If you tend to forget about produce once it’s tucked away in the produce bins, move it to another area of your fridge that’s more visible. One tip that’s been popular among women with ADHD on TikTok is swapping where you store your condiments and fresh produce in your fridge.
The logic is that A) you don’t need your condiments to be prominently displayed, because you’ll go looking for the ones you need when you need them, and B) having produce in your fridge door shelves means it will always be visible and nearly impossible to forget about.
How do you save money on food?