Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.
~ Albert Einstein
How to save money on groceries this summer and year round is the topic of this blog post. The idea is not to offer a complete list of all the things you can do to save money on groceries, but rather to offer some suggestions you might not have thought of before as well as to get you thinking of ways that you personally can save money on your food budget as you go forward.
How to save money on food is not that difficult. Most of us spend our money rather frivolously without giving it much thought. As such, just a few small tweaks will save you tens if not hundreds of dollars each month.
So let’s get to it. Let’s look at saving money on food.
Become plant strong
As many of you might know, I’m vegan and so I enjoy a whole food plant based diet. I do it for ethical reasons.
However, the fact remains, that eating a plant based diet is cheaper than eating a SAD (Standard American Diet) food plan. In fact I’ve seen some evidence that suggests eating a whole foods plant based diet can be up to 5 times cheaper than eating out at fast food restaurants.
Not to mention that you’ll be helping to keep yourself healthier on a plant based diet too. So you’ll save money down the road on the medications you’ll likely be able to avoid having to take and the doctor’s visits you might need.
So think of centring your diet around starches like potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, beans and other legumes.
If you think of your plate as a circle you can chop it up into quarters. How about one quarter from the beans and legumes family, 2 quarters from the grains and other starchy vegetables and the last quarter from vegetables. Dessert can be a nice piece of fruit. This is a very inexpensive way to eat.
The Power Plate from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a great and easy visually pleasing graphic to help ensure you the best from a healthy plant based diet.
Less is more
Whether you eat a plant based diet or a SAD diet, you can always do better with eating less. Less in fact is more. Some research suggests that eating less gives you more years to your life.
Eating less gives you more money to save. Eating less gives you more fat that you lose. And on and on.
But the key to eating less is to eat powerfully nutritiously dense foods. Again, the plant based diet comes out ahead here. Regardless though, you’ll want to limit your meat consumption and portion sizes of meat and animal products.
Eating less and feeling full doing so can be a challenge and so you need to fill up on high fiber calorie light foods. Vegetables are key here. A pound of mixed salad greens for example has less than 90 calories. 3 cups of chopped raw broccoli has less than 100 calories. See how easy it is to fill yourself up eating veggies.
I know they can get expensive, which brings us to the next tip in ways to save money on a tight budget when you go grocery shopping.
To everything there is a season
Buy your produce – your veggies and fruits – when they are cheaper which usually means when they are in season.
Here is a great chart that gives you a bird’s eye view of when different veggies are in season. Here is the same chart for fruits and nuts. For a quick rundown of the cheapest veggies and fruits that are available by month this is a great chart.
Scissors beats paper
When you’re learning how to grocery shop on a budget take tip from that old game we played called “Rock, Paper, Scissors”. Scissors beats paper, so take your scissors to the weekly flyers and cut out them coupons 🙂
Or if you prefer to do it digitally and save the trees, check out the local online flyers in for the grocery stores in your community and print off the coupons you need or make note of them.
I don’t necessarily believe it is a wise choice to shop at 2 or 3 different stores to get the best deal on all items as you might end up spending more money than you realize in time and gas and travelling. I usually prefer to shop at the most convenient grocery store that offers the overall best savings for the week.
The week will inherit the earth
Groan… I know, sorry, that’s a pretty cheesy pun when you’re looking to save money on food.
But here’s what I mean. I only grocery shop once a week. Most vegetables and fruits will last you a week if you pick them carefully and put them in the fridge when you get home.
But the key to saving money by grocery shopping just once a week is to plan your menu in advance. I usually pick 5 or so dinner recipes that I’ll make for that week and buy the grocery items for them once a week.
Why only 5? Because usually one or two of those recipes will make enough for leftovers and we can enjoy them on a different night.
I’ll also buy enough bread for sandwiches that can be used for lunches and make sure we have plenty of cheap cereals and oats and fruit for breakfasts.
The mundane will keep you sane
If you enjoy trying new foods and different recipes all the time, then saving money on your groceries can be more challenging.
I have found that a mundane menu throughout the weeks and months that has some variety keeps us satisfied and makes my shopping easier.
Buy healthy groceries and avoid as much as you can the more exotic fare that will tempt you with exotic prices.
Buy bulk items when you can but don’t buy more than you reasonably will use in a week or so. Otherwise you’re just creating waste. Also, shop on a full tummy to keep the money from chasing after your hunger.
These are just some of my best ideas that I use on a daily basis when saving money at the grocery store. I hoe you have found them helpful. It is not an exhaustive list but I had hoped to offer something a little different than what you can find elsewhere. Budgeting can be extremely helpful too if you find you keep spending more at the grocery store than you would like or can afford.
I have eaten well for a family of 3 with a teenage boy whose appetite knows no bounds on $60 a month. Choosing whole foods, bulk foods, foods in season and simple recipes makes all of this possible.