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Let’s face it, food isn’t always cheap and it’s one thing that we can’t live without.
If you’ve ever been strapped for cash, you know exactly what it’s like to try to find the best deals or greatest value to make your dollar go further when buying food.
Saving money on food doesn’t always have to be associated with financial situations, it can be a rewarding task enjoyed by anyone. If there is a way to save a few bucks or get rewarded for shopping, you better believe that we are going to be all over it.
Today we are going to look at some of our favorite ways to save money on food and even make a few bucks with your food purchases.
1. Get Cash Back On Grocery Purchases
One of the easiest ways that you can save money on food is by earning cash back or getting instant discounts on your grocery purchases.
While you could use the traditional cut and clip coupons, in this day in age, you can use cash back apps straight from your smartphone to save time and money.
Apps like Ibotta allow users to browse which products are being offered with a cash back offer to allow you to build your grocery list around getting you the most money back.
2. Earn Gift Cards To Your Favorite Grocery Stores
With a new era of shopping assistant and online grocery shopping coming into play, more and more people are starting to have their groceries delivered.
While this may seem convenient, you can actually earn money by visiting the store itself. Shopkick, a smartphone app, allows you to earn “kicks” for each visit to participating stores.
You can even earn additional kicks by purchasing or simply scanning a product’s bar code. These kicks can be exchanged for gift cards for local grocery stores to add in even more savings for each grocery trip.
3. Use Your Receipts To Earn Gift Cards To Popular Restaurants
One of our favorite ways to double up the savings on each grocery trip is by using ReceiptHog, a smartphone app that pays you for photos of your receipts.
Simply keep your paper receipt from each trip, scan them into the app, and earn gift cards that can be used on a variety of different items including your next grocery trip!
4. Budget Your Grocery List With Smartphone Apps
With the wide world of smartphone apps out there, it can become easy to forget how useful some can be.
Apps like Grocery Pal allow you to budget your grocery shopping list to both make sure that you are getting everything that you need, and to make sure that you are not overspending on your grocery budget.
They also feature weekly savings, coupon codes, and sales to make sure you are getting the lowest prices.
5. Become A Mystery Shopper To Earn Extra Income & Get Free Meals
What if I told you that you could be making extra money and getting free meals by simply shopping with a retailer and giving your feedback on the customer service?
That is exactly what you can do with being a mystery shopper. While most people think a mystery shopper is some type of undercover private investigator, they are usually a normal person with a smart phone.
With a variety of apps available in the app store for mystery shopping, the possibilities are endless. We have seen great success with Field Agent, a smartphone app that is designed to help you earn extra money by completing small tasks to help restaurants audit their stores.
Most jobs do not require a purchase and will require you to simply take a photo of a display or check a price of an item. These tasks pay our anywhere from $1-$20 depending on the the difficulty of the task.
6. Build Out A Meal Plan For The Week
In order to save money and save time, you are going to want to make sure that your meals are planned out for the week.
This works great in sticking to a budget, making sure you have food for when you need it the most, and to reduce grabbing any fast food for its convenience. One of the easiest ways to do this is by using a smartphone app called Cozi.
Cozi is a meal planner and recipe supplying app that will suggest meals and give you the full grocery list for easy shopping. One of the best features of this app is that you can log into it with multiple accounts.
So if you have roommates or a family, they can easily add to your grocery list right from their smartphone. It updates in real time, so you can easily have your complete list ready to go at any time.
7. Buy Food In Bulk & Package Yourself
When you head off to the grocery store with a budget in mind, you are most likely looking at the cheapest way to get out of there. This can save you money at the time, but greater savings could be had in the long run by buying in bulk and packaging food up yourself.
For example, if you are constantly buying chips or cracker snacks for your kids, the prepackaged selection may seem like the easiest solution.
However, if you were to buy a larger bag of chips and placed them in your own inexpensive bags or containers, you can save more money in the long run while hopefully using less waste as well.
You may want to check your city for stores that sell in bulk or simply buy in bulk when food goes on sale.
8. Research Recipes To Find Creative Ways To Use More Of The Foods You Buy
When you go to cook a recipe, many times you are leftover with a little bit of food that you will not use. While most people will store it until it becomes unusable or simply throw it away, there are ways to find recipes to use this food in a creative way.
Apps like SuperCook have been popping up lately to reduce the amount of food that you use while being able to create fantastic meals. Finding these recipes couldn’t be any easier.
Simply select all of the ingredients that you have that you would like to use, input them into the app, and SuperCook will suggest a recipe that fits the criteria. The best part is, it updates the list when you add or remove ingredients.
9. Sign Up For Store Memberships For Discounts
One of the quickest and easiest ways to get more discounts and coupons is by signing up for store memberships at your local supermarkets.
We have all seen them, the simple rewards cards being offered by every cashier while you are checking out. While you may not want to spend the time getting set up at the time, it is worth checking out when you get home.
Grocery store reward programs are usually built up the same, offering gift cards to their store or “credits” once you reach a certain amount of dollars purchased.
These are free to sign up and the only leg work you have to do on your end is simply scan the card when you check out and await your monthly rewards. It is so easy, we wonder why more and more people are not utilizing these easy benefits.
10. Design Your Meals Around What Is On Sale
The golden rule of grocery shopping on a budget is to not go when you are hungry. When you shop with an empty stomach, you are going to be more inclined to buy foods that sound good at the moment, not the ones that make sense for your budget.
Using Favado, a smartphone app designed to alert you when your favorite products go on sale, is a great way to build out your recipes. By seeing what is on sale, you can build out your recipes to cost you the least amount for the week.
For example, if there is a sale on chicken for the week, this may be a great time to buy up and plan out a few different recipes using the chicken that you bought.
This can be great for meal planning and freezing food ahead of time to get the most out of your initial savings.
11. Compare Food Prices Between Local Competitors
Saving money on food requires a little bit of research on finding the best deals. Sometimes, your favorite grocery store does not always have the best prices on the foods that you want.
Why pay more when you can pay less? Instacart shows you the best prices for your items on your grocery list from the convenience of your own smartphone.
Gone are the days of having to scour Sunday newspapers to see who has the best deal on your favorite foods. Simply add all of the food you need into the app, and let Instacart do the comparing for you.
One of the best features of this smartphone app is that not only does it help you compare grocery prices, it also allows you to buy them straight from the app and have them delivered in as fast as under an hour, depending on the location of the participating stores.
12. Make Your Own Dressings, Sauces, & Seasonings
One of the biggest expenses that you can cut out of your grocery budget is buying pre-made sauces, dressings, and seasonings.
Learning how to make your own ingredients from fresh foods can not only save you money, but allow you to get a healthier substitute for the processed, pre-made items.
y making your own items, you can usually use many of the items that you have in your home already, which can save you a lot more money as well. You can also control how much you make.
For example, if you are needing salad dressing for one night only, you can easily adjust a recipe to yield enough dressing for what you need, rather than buying a full bottle and allowing the rest to go to waste.
Last but not least, many of the seasonings you have on hand at the moment can be mixed to make your own special blend of all-purpose seasonings. Who knows, maybe you will get good enough to create your own brand!
13. Learn To Grow Your Own Food
Have you ever dreamed about making your own luscious garden to grow your own foods? Now is a better time than ever to try out gardening as you can save countless dollars by growing your own vegetables, herbs, fruits, and more.
While you may think, “I don’t have the room to create a garden”, there are many hacks that allow you to create a garden indoors or on an apartment balcony.
Growing herbs such as parsley, cilantro, and mint can not only save you money from not having to purchase the store versions, it will also save you time and energy by not having to run to the store because you want to add a little herbs to a recipe.
Small plants like peppers, strawberries, and jalapeños can be grown in smaller areas that do not require a full blown garden.
14. Use Your Calculator
With most people having a smartphone these days, it is no excuse not to use the calculator app to add up your grocery costs as you shop.
Having a running total on hand will ensure that you do not overspend and can even help you choose cheaper alternatives to help meet your budget.
If you go into a store with a budget in mind and a tool to help you track your spending, chances are, you are going to stick to your budget. Don’t forget about your taxes either.
Using a calculator along the way and adding tax can give you a precise cost for your grocery spending.
15. Store Your Food Properly For Longer Lasting Foods
One of the biggest causes of wasted food is foods rotting in the fridge or pantry. While sometimes we forget that we have certain foods which will ultimately decay, many instances can be avoided by properly storing your foods.
If you have the budget, it is highly recommended to invest in high quality food storage containers to ensure your foods are properly sealed and kept fresh until their expiration date.
If you are not planning on using a certain food within the expiration date, check to see how to properly store/label/freeze the food to keep it usable for a longer period of time.
This can also be a great way to aid in your meal prepping abilities as some foods will hold a better shelf life than others.
16. Eat A Small Meal At Home Before Dining Out
This next tip, while it is a great way to save money on food costs, can also be labeled as a “life hack”. Eating out is usually a huge expense for those looking to save on their food budget.
I mean let’s face it: do you really need to spend $10 on a plate of spaghetti when you can make the same amount for less than a dollar a serving?
However, there are going to be times where you are obligated to go out, so one thing you can do to help ease the cost is to eat a small meal at home first.
What this does is fill you up to where you will only want to eat a smaller meal, not impulse buy the plate of fajitas you saw sizzling when you walked into the door.
Leave enough room to eat a small, inexpensive meal as to not be left with nothing to do while the others are eating.
17. Try Shopping Online And Picking Up Your Groceries Curbside
Another convenient way to save money on your groceries is to use online ordering and in store pickup. Over the past few years, more and more grocery stores are giving its customers the option to order groceries online and have them brought out to their car.
This is perfect for those who over-shop, have kids, or the disabled. Using this to your advantage can make sure that you are buying just what you need and not what you may think that you need just because it looks good.
Check to see if any stores around you offer free pickup as some places may charge you a shopping and convenience fee.
18. Learn How To Freeze Certain Types Of Foods
If you are serious about saving money on food, you may want to invest some of that saved money into a nice deep freezer.
Freezing foods is one of the best ways to save money on groceries as you can preserve and elongate the shelf life of many different foods by simply storing and freezing them correctly.
Freezing foods can be used on cooked and uncooked food items to help aid in meal prepping or stocking up. For example, if you plan on bulking up on sale items, freezing them can ensure that they stay usable for way past the expiration date.
Want to make your own frozen breakfast burritos to easily heat up before your rush out of the door every morning?
Make your burritos ahead of time, wrap them in freezer paper, store in a plastic bag, and heat them up when you are ready to eat them.
19. Teach Yourself How To Cook More
While the thought of having to cook your own food can be a fearful task for those who never really learned how to cook, it is going to be the best investment that you can make when trying to save more money on food.
Luckily, there’s an app for that.
That’s right, you don’t have to shell out your hard earned money for cooking classes, you can learn hands on from the comfort of your own home with just your smartphone.
Top Chef University, an app that provides interactive cooking videos, teaches beginners on how to cook meals ranging from entry level to restaurant quality.
Having this set of skills is going to allow you to make new and exciting recipes that will make cooking at home with fresh ingredients much easier.
You can even use these skills to impress loved ones for a night in instead of paying for an expensive night out.
20. Bulk Up On Sale Items
Everyone likes a great sale, those who are trying to save money on food love a great sale at the grocery store. When you find a food that is on sale that you use quite often, you may want to look at buying up now to save money in the long run.
Using an app like SavingStar can help you find the foods that are currently on sale and even offer coupons on your favorite grocery items to take all of the guesswork out.
No need to sift through your mail box coupons or newspaper coupon days, this app shows you all of the up to date sales from your favorite retailers at the convenience of your smartphone.
This makes it much easier to find the foods that are on sale so that you can buy them in bulk and store them for a future time.
21. Buy Foods That Have A Multi-Purpose
When looking for the best value when it comes to foods, you will want to look at buying foods that you can use in multiple recipes.
These multi-use foods are the foods that are very versatile and can be cooked many different ways so that you can use them night after night without them getting old.
You can use an app like AllRecipes to find a variety of recipes that include the specific food that you are using. Potato are a great example as they are relatively cheap in bulk and they can be used for many different meals.
Hash browns, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, french fries, and potato skins are just a few examples of different ways that you can cook a simple potato to make the perfect side dish to any type of meal that you are planning to cook.
They can also be cut up in frozen if you want to extend their shelf life.
22. Stock Up On Frozen Vegetables
While on the subject of buying foods that serve multiple purposes, one of the best foods you can buy that is already frozen is frozen vegetables.
While you could go one step further and freeze your own vegetables, you can usually get a bulk bag of frozen veggies for relatively cheap.
These versatile bags of frozen goodness allows you to use just what you need, when you need it. No having to make a trip to the store for a bundle of broccoli only to use just a little bit. Plus, they can be used as quick side dishes when you are in a pinch.
23. Don’t Be Afraid Of Store Brands
Last but not least, when it comes to saving money on your groceries, one of the easiest things you can do is lose the stigma you may have with store brands.
Store brands are usually the same quality, if not better, than most name brand items that you may be purchasing already. It is an easy way to save a lot of money on your groceries while possibly receiving certain sales or incentives by purchasing the store’s brands.
Most of the time, you are paying for the marketing dollars spent by a company to promote their products when the cheaper, lesser known brand gets the job done just fine.
So there you have it, 23 ways that you can save money on food. We have looked at a multiple ways to save money when you are grocery shopping or eating out to make sure that you are sticking to your overall food budget.
For bonus savings, try using a variety of these tips together to maximize your money saving potential!