How-to: Save Money on Food | Molly’s Money Guest Post

June 13, 2013·

I am SO excited to have my first GUEST POST for Molly’s Money today! As y’all know, this money series is one where I talk about getting out of debt, saving money, how-tos, and really all things personal finance.

So, the FABULOUS Lauren from Almost Casual is here to share with y’all her tips on saving money on FOOD (a notoriously tough category to save in). So, take it away, Lauren!

button2-formollysmall-almost-casualHey y’all! I’m Lauren and I blog over at Almost Casual, where there’s usually recipes, DIYs, and pictures of my ridiculous lab scattered around.  I’m so excited to be guest posting for Molly’s Money!

I’m here to talk about saving money on food. Molly has talked before about saving money when you don’t have money to spend, and I think this definitely falls into that category.

So here’s the thing: sometimes saving money in the food category can be hard. I mean, really hard. When it comes to saving money on food, the math part is easy. The creating a “plan” part? Piece of cake. Anyone can look at a piece of paper and say “hey! Ramen every other night and pb&j for lunch every day would cut our grocery bill by $100/month!” but then putting that plan into place quickly backfires when you realize that sad peanut butter sandwich is WAY less appetizing than bojangles. Trust me, I’ve been there. The key is to keep trying.

First things first. Buying groceries is cheaper than eating out.  So before doing anything else, take a serious look at your month. How many times did you eat out? This is a hard habit to break, but once you do, it’s a lot easier to feel in control of your food budget.

Making the transition. So, once you’ve decided to eat out a little less, you’re left with “what shall we eat?“. This is where a little bit of planning comes in to play. My husband and I do our major grocery shopping every two weeks. We start with what we want to eat for dinner, usually picking about 8-10 things. (knowing that some days I’ll just want to make mac and cheese or that we will eat out for a friend’s birthday or date night) and build our grocery list from there. My husband actually really likes to “meal plan” because this means he gets some say on what’s for dinner! Ha!

(quesadilla points, to accompany ShakShuka, a tomato dish)

Money Saving Tips. So now you’re eating out less, and thinking “hmm, I’m still dropping hundreds at the grocery”. Once you are used to cooking at home (or if you just want to plunge right in to saving as much as you can) changing the way you cook will save even more money.

1. Re-evaluate your list. Start by writing down the things you are going to cook, and then write the ingredients you need. Once I started this I stopped forgetting things (like butter, hello!) for recipes I wanted, and also kept from double buying things (like lemon juice, random!) that I already had.

2. Stop buying the prepared servings of things. Is single serve minute rice super easy? Of course. But measuring out rice and water is barely a step above that. And you can buy like 5x the amount of “non instant” rice for the same price as the instant stuff. Want to take it even further? Buy rice and other dry goods in the bulk section. Store them in pretty containers (or super cheap mason jars!) and they stay fresh even longer.  Here’s a list of things that I no longer buy in single servings, and usually buy in the bulk section.

  • Grits
  • Oatmeal
  • beans
  • nuts
  • dried fruit
  • rice

3. Pack your leftovers for lunch. I know some people abhor leftovers. If you can’t stand the idea of reheating food, then definitely stock up on the lunchy items that you enjoy. But every time you eat leftovers, you are literally saving money that would otherwise be thrown away. I hardly ever alter large recipes (especially things like lasagna!). Instead, we eat what we can, pack some for lunch and freeze some for later. My husband still gets lunch things when we shop (he loves pb&j more than I knew was possible) in case we don’t have leftovers, but usually we try to eat up what’s been made before we make more.(tamales freeze well and make excellent lunch!)

4. Cook from scratch. Is this daunting? Yes. Is it worth it? YES! This will save you a BOAT load. Here’s a list of things that I make from scratch that are totally worth it. (They link to either my own recipes I use, or my favorite recipes from others online)

What do all these things have in common? They are all normally packaged goods. Read: they are pricier items, especially if you are brand specific. What else do they have in common? All of them (except granola) you can make in large batches and then freeze. I usually make about 8 big pretzels at once. We eat two, then I freeze the rest for an afternoon snack or football party later down the road. You know those “single serve” frozen biscuits at the store? They’re about $8+ per bag at the store. You can make biscuit dough at home and freeze it the same way for so much less!Revamping your monthly food spending is definitely a process! Remember that you can always start small. Fresh biscuits this weekend perhaps? Then, do more as you feel comfortable! After awhile you’ll be a grocery list making, staple cooking, dinner-prepping master! There are so many awesome blogs/cookbooks/websites out there with delicious options, before long cooking at home (and saving money doing it) will be second nature! [Here are three blogs that I reference almost daily: SmittenKitchen, Brown Eyed Baker, How Sweet It Is]


Thank you so much, Lauren! What do y’all think? Do any of you have great tips for saving money on groceries?