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13 Frugal Food Tips That Make So Much Sense

frugal food tips

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

frugal food tips

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.

frugal food tips

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!

frugal food tips

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.

frugal food tips

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.

frugal food tips

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.

frugal food tips

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?”

frugal food tips

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.

frugal food tips

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.

frugal food tips

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.

frugal food tips

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:

frugal food tips

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.)

frugal food tips

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:

  1. Take a look at the weekly ad for your preferred grocery store and find out what’s on sale.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Write your shopping list based on your meal plan for the week.
frugal food tips

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?

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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Food & Recipes

  • Any veggies scraps or bones left over get put in freezer bags. When the bag is full, take it out and simmer with herbs and seasonings to make your own soup or broth. Also, Sunday is my meal prep day. I scour the fridge/freezer for items I need to use up and plan my menu accordingly. I’m not one to waste food if I can help it. This also helps me discover spills in the fridge I may not have discovered normally.

  • I’ve found that shredding carrots when there are just a couple left, chopping up last of the celery leaves and all, chopping up stems of fresh mushrooms, the last bit of the slaw in the bag; all of it makes the best soup and it can be added to a quart or gallon freezer bag as you keep the fridge in great shape. I add it to the cheap ramen and DON’T use the seasoning packet since that is where all the salt is. Wonderful flavor when you add some of the soup veggies and a bit of salt free garlic seasoning from Aldi’s!

  • I spend around $175 a month for groceries for one and that’s getting organic items (western Wisconsin).

    I have rheumatoid arthritis and severe food allergies so have to be extremely careful with what I buy and how I use it.

    The only food that gets thrown in the trash at my house are vegetable peels and that’s only because of the pesticides that are on them.

    I used to have a large backyard garden but RA put a stop to that, unfortunately.

    Nothing gets wasted. Food is either eaten, frozen, turned into soup, or put into the easiest and least expensive of all meals – congee.

  • Okay, now I feel compelled to take up the $289 mo challenge! Can it be done? Maybe? Betcha!
    We now buy milk on clearance for 1.99 per gallon ( also scored a case of Liberte yogurt for $1!) and freeze it, per https://onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2012/10/31-things-you-can-freeze-to-save-time-and-money.html.
    Even though we are in a city I forage purslane, plantain, walnuts ( thanks for the nut butter tutorial, Jillee!) blackberries, lambs quarters, persimmons, etc, all high priced items in our local market but free and for the looking.
    Make meals simpler, buy what is inexpensive, cook creatively. And remember that anything tastes great with good company and happy conversation!

  • I spend about $200 a month on food for one, but I also go to the Foodbank about one or two times a month. I am a disabled senior citizen on a fixed income. Food just seems to be more expensive where I live (in Olympia, WA-that’s near Seattle, WA)

  • Be very careful about that last coupon tip, Jillee. Folks will tell you that they are being paid to clip the coupons but they are on the fringe of committing fraud, and so is anyone buying from them! At best, it is defeating the spirit of the coupon’s intention. At is worst, both parties could be charged with coupon fraud, which is a serious crime. Better to clip your own!

    • I challenge you to go to this site and look up what she says about cooking, you’ll be surprised. I myself have literally save thousands of dollars. About 8 years ago I had a life threatening stroke after my wife told me that she wanted a divorce. A year later after I got out of the hospital I found myself on disability, shocking to say the least. I had to make my money situation work. About two years later I happened to stumble upon http://www.danijohnson.com and my life has never been the same!

  • USDA estimates that the average family of four spends anywhere from $146 to $289 per month on food. This has to be a typo or else I’m spending waaaay to much. I have a family of 5 and I know I spend that probably in a week. What am I doing wrong?

    • Me too! For a family of 5 we budget $160 per week, and we are not eating shrimp, steak, and lobster. We shop at Aldi’s most often! If that is not a typo, we would be eating 1 meal a day to stick with that budget!

      • That seems a little high. We are a family of 7 and we can get by on 100 a week. Lots of crock pot meals. We mainly eat chicken and fish. We also shop at aldi or walmart. My husband always has leftovers for his lunch too. We only buy what we need though and nothing extra.

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