255: Reminders We ALL Need to Help Save Money On Food
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Many people in this audience are interested in (or are!) growing/raising some of their own food, but it’s probably safe to say none of us are doing it 100%. And if you’re anything like me, every trip to the grocery store the last few months has brought more gasps/eye rolls/curse words due to the sticker shock of any item you pick up.
As such, here are some basic tips for saving money on your food bill—most of which we absolutely already know, and also absolutely need to be reminded of.
Wait. Why do we need the reminder?
Because we’re human. We get lazy and comfortable (or we are thrown into a new life situation) and we need to re-learn how to save money. It happens to all of us and I’m the kind of person who likes to talk about that because then the community is comfortable having real discussions instead of everyone pretending they always make the best money saving choice every single time.
Here are 8 tips to help you get your grocery shopping/food use adventure off on the right foot!
Plan, plan, plan
Planning your menus helps you know what you need to buy (or take from the pantry) for the meals you’re going to make so you’re not going in blind! Planning your meals will always make this process more efficient, and efficiency saves money.
Shop when you’re full
Everything looks good when you’re hungry, and you end up tossing things in your cart you wouldn’t normally buy. Everything in your cart costs money, so make sure you eat before you go shopping!
Be creative where you shop
My husband and I recently discovered Mike’s Discount Foods. This Minnesota chain of six stores sells food that’s close to or a bit past its sell by/best by date. (Additional information on those dates here.) Check to see if you have a similar store in your area! Shopping at Mike’s (coupled with Aldi for the items Mike’s doesn’t carry) has completely altered our grocery bill.
Shop less often
When I worked full time, I wasted so much money stopping by the store every couple nights after work to grab something I “needed” — which always led to a lot of other things I didn’t need! Having now switched to doing 95% of our shopping at Mikes/Aldi, it also means a much longer drive for groceries—so we shop less often. Grabbing groceries 1-2 times a month instead of popping into a grocery store every 2-3 days definitely helps the wallet!
Shop with an online app
Admittedly something I’ve never done, but I have friends who swear by it and haven’t been inside their local grocery store in years. They say it’s easier to track how much their order is and they’re not tempted by things they see on an endcap or random sales.
Be okay with what isn’t at the store
In a world of one click have everything right now, it can almost seem offensive if a store doesn’t have milk, taco shells, or cherry pie filling. Sometimes when you’re grocery shopping (especially at discount places like Mike’s or Aldi) the ingredient you need might not be there. Learn to substitute, be creative, or save that planned meal for when the item you need is in stock.
Use leftovers correctly
Making a bigger meal to stretch it for leftovers is great. Making a bigger meal and then having seconds and thirds the first night defeats the purpose of having made the bigger meal.
Use leftovers creatively
Sometimes the best meal is the one made up of all the other ones you already planned. A great way to use leftovers is to glop all those bits together into a whole new creation!
Recently my husband and I did a “clean out the fridge” skillet of leftover tater tots, fried potatoes, sliced brats, and gravy. It cleaned a few containers out of the fridge and was absolutely delicious!
Have other helpful tips?
Hopefully these tips serve as helpful reminders to make your grocery shopping less painful. Have other tips to share? Drop them in the comments below or send me an email and I will include them in a future podcast episode.
— Amy Dingmann, 11-6-23
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