How to Reduce Food Costs and Save Money
If you’re an avid cook or baker, you’ve probably noticed how much scrap and waste you produce when crafting your next masterpiece.
The average American family throws away $1,600 worth of produce each year, leaving a large area for improvement. Not only is there a financial impact of this extreme wastefulness, but an environmental impact as well.
In this post, we’ll explore several ways you can reduce your food costs, save money, and lessen the environmental impacts. Let’s get started!
Plan, Plan, Plan
The best ay to reduce food costs and save money is by planning. By creating a plan for every meal for the week, you’ll know exactly what and how much of each ingredient you need.
The best way to plan your meals is by using a calendar for the week mapping out your meals each day. If there are certain nights you plan to eat out at a restaurant, you can opt to remove these days from your meal plan strategy.
Once you’ve planned your meals, you’ll want to create a grocery list detailing every ingredient needed. To maximize your trip to the grocery, try to find meals that utilize some of the same ingredients.
Create a Shopping List – And Stick to It!
Whenever you visit the grocery store, you are subliminally bombarded with marketing messages encouraging you to spend more money and make unnecessary purchases.
Have you ever noticed that many “essential” items like milk and butter are placed towards the rear of the store? This encourages you to walk through the store, increasing the chances of you grabbing other items like chips, fruit snacks, etc.
By creating a shopping list and only purchasing foods you need, you can cut food waste and save money.
Keep it Simple
Some dishes will require many more ingredients than others. Aim to find meals that are easy to cook and use just a few common ingredients to save money.
For example, a pasta dish that contains chicken and some form of pasta will only require a few ingredients. However, a dish that uses a rare type of produce and seasonings will often lead to more waste.
There is a common misconception that meals requiring fewer ingredients have less flavor than their complex counterparts. This is not always the case. Simple meals can have great flavor and nutrition when prepared the right way. For example, using a smoker griller combo can help you to save space and money!
Buy and Cook in Bulk
Buying ingredients in bulk can help you to save an additional 15% to 20% on your food costs. But you’ll want to consider the ingredients before buying.
Perishable items should be avoided when purchasing in bulk as many times they will spoil before use. Some perishable items can be frozen to extend their life.
Some common ingredients and foods that you’ll want to consider purchasing in bulk include:
- Canned goods
- Some Oils
- Frozen fruits or vegetables
When cooking in bulk, it will also help to reduce the costs to run your appliances. For example, you can reduce the costs to run an air fryer by filling it up instead of using it for just one item.
Make Frequent Trips to the Grocery
When buying fresh produce or meats, making frequent trips to the grocery or butcher is an easy way to save money by avoiding throwing away spoiled foods.
Plan to go to the grocery a couple of times per week to purchase fresh produce and meats. You’ll want to plan your cooking around your trips to the grocery so you can cook with the freshest ingredients.
It’s common to visit the grocery once on the weekends and once mid week.
Find Other Ways to Use Scraps
If you have leftover scraps when cooking, see if there are other ways you can use them other than throwing them in the trash.
This might mean using them as food for your pets, other dishes, or a variety of other ways.
If you don’t have any other use for your waste, consider starting a compost pile to reduce the environmental impacts of food waste.
Grind Your Own Meats
Grinding your own meat not only can save you money but it also provides superior taste over meat ground days ago. You’ll need to have a meat grinder to get started, but these can be purchased for less than $100.
Use the Freezer
Freezing leftovers and bulk ingredients is an excellent way to save money when cooking and reducing food waste.
Most foods can be frozen to preserve their life. Meats, vegetables, and fruits are the most common foods that get frozen, but there are other options including bread, bananas, tomato paste, and even coconut milk that freeze well. Check out these other uncommon foods that freeze well.
By purchasing a vacuum sealer, you can extend the life of your frozen goods even longer while simultaneously preserving its flavor. You can find a vacuum sealer for less than $50.
There are many cheap foods that you can store in the freezer to last.
Start a Garden for Fresh and Cheap Vegetables
If you live in an area with a moderate climate, starting a vegetable garden can be a fun idea to grow your own ingredients. Not only will this help to lower your food costs, but it has a positive environmental impact and it allows you to cook with the freshest ingredients.
You’ll need to consider the types of vegetables you plan to grow when determining the size of your garden.
To get started, you’ll need to have soil that works for your plants. Depending on where you live, you might consider getting your soil tested to ensure it will allow your plants to grow properly.
Next, you’ll need to decide which plants to grow. For moderate climates, here are some ideas on vegetables, fruits, and spices you might consider growing:
Don’t want to start your own garden at home? Consider using a local community garden. These gardens are shared by several members and give you many of the same benefits.
Utilize Local Farmers Markets
If you want to reduce food costs, finding a local farmers market can be a fun way to do so.
You’ll have your chance to purchase local eggs, honey, and other common ingredients from local farmers at a discount.
This has many benefits other than saving you money! You’ll also reduce the negative environmental impacts of shopping at a nation grocery chain as well as helping boost your local economy.
Store Foods Appropriately
Knowing how to store foods the right way is critical to reducing food waste and saving money.
Some foods might require airtight storage containers, while others might be capable of being left out in the open air. Research how to store your foods to extend their life and save you money.
Final Thoughts on Reducing Food Waste at Home
There’s a good chance you end up throwing away a nice portion of leftover ingredients when cooking.
By utilizing some of the tips above, you’re sure to reduce your food waste and start saving money in no time.
Between cooking in bulk, visiting the grocery more frequently, planning meals ahead of time, and storing foods the right way, you can easily cut your food waste, save money, and do good for the environment.
Now it’s your turn. Starting avoiding food waste and saving money today!