8 Ways to Save Money Cooking

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Banana Bread with Chocolate and Crystallized Ginger

I do not know of a single person who doesn’t like to save money. Even if you’re not on a tight budget, no one like to pay more for something than they have to, and everyone loves a bargain. And these days – well, let’s just say that overspending on anything is not in the cards.

Banana Bread with Chocolate and Crystallized Ginger

And getting your dollars to stretch in the supermarket is one of the most important places to be shopping-savvy. After all, it’s awesome to be clever at negotiating a car lease, but food shopping is something we all need to do on the super regular.

8 Simple Ways to Save Money on Groceries

The good news is that there are SO many easy and effective way to slash your grocery budget. Here are 8 tips that will bring that receipt total down considerably.

1. Buy whole fruits and vegetables.

Pound for pound, whenever you buy anything that has been peeled, cut up, or prepped in any way you are paying a premium. And not only are you paying more for the work that went into the ingredients, you may lose additional money on the back end, since these items are definitely more perishable than their whole counterparts. Pre-diced onion might only last for a handful of days in the fridge, for example, while whole onions will last for weeks.

How to Cook Vidalia Onions

2. Don’t snub store brands!

House brand foods used to feel like an inferior version of name brand items, but these days stores have more formidable relationships with manufacturers, and often the house brand of something might be made by the same company as a reputable brand name product.

You will have to taste some to figure out what you like. And stores like Costco with their Kirkland brand items, or Trader Joe’s with their own eponymous line of groceries are powerful examples of how good store brand products can be.

3. Put the freezer to work.

If pork chops are on sale, but you don’t plan to make them this week, consider buying them and freezing them for later. Or if your market or price club has a great deal on bulk chicken or ground beef, take advantage of this, and just divide up the package into smaller freezer proof containers or bags. Make sure to label everything and wrap it very well.

How to Safely Thaw Meat

Frozen shrimp also deserve a special shout out – most shrimp that you buy “fresh” was actually frozen and defrosted anyway, so stash a bag in the freezer for quick weeknight dinners.

Frozen vegetables (think corn, peas, hash browns, brussels sprouts) and fruit (strawberries, raspberries, mano, blueberries, pineapple) are also great to have on hand.

4. Look for the bargain aisle.

Many supermarkets have a designated aisle where they feature a selection of reduced price items. Often these items are seasonal, and you might also see them discounted further after a holiday passes (matzoh ball mix is practically free right after Passover for instance! And candy canes are a steal on December 26th).

5. Look for “While Supplies Last” signage. 

In one of the markets that I shop in, some of the sales signs on the shelves have additional language (in pretty small print, so get in there close to check!) letting shoppers know this item is in limited supply, and intended to sell out. Often these prices are discounted quite heavily, since they are trying to clear their shelves for new product to come in.

6. Stock up on sale non-perishables. 

If you have the storage space, when you see that canned broth or tomatoes or beans or pasta is on sale, throw a few extra into your cart. I once bought 10 containers of mustard because the price was so good (I happen to really love mustard).

Can of Tuttorosso Crushed Tomatoes with basil.

7. There may be one or more clearance areas in your market.

Day old pastries and bread (perfect for French toast or stuffing!) might be tucked into a small shelf near the bakery. Corners of the store may have shelves with collections of miscellaneous products that no longer warrant space on the main shelves.

This might be because they are close to expiration, or there are just a few left and they aren’t being restocked. You could also get some serious steals on packages that got a little dinged up, but the contents are still fine. (Who cares what the outside of the box of cereal looks like?)

8. Look at the store circular before you go.

Most major markets have a website that will show you the items that are on sale that week. A chance to think about this in advance means that you can meal plan around the pot roast that is on special, or decide this is the week to stock up on snacks for back to school.

Baked Chicken Legs with Herbs and Lemon

Budget-Friendly Dinner Ideas

Here are a handful of inexpensive recipes to get you rolling:

About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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