How to Spend Less Money on Food in 13 Steps

For most of us, the biggest part of our monthly budget goes on food. Well, we all have to eat, so we basically have to spend the money, but we don’t have to spend that much. Here’s how.

I learned most of these tricks while I was a student. I never had enough money and I always had to find a new way to manage. Saving on food was the best idea ever. And, I didn’t harm the quality of the food I eat, didn’t turn to cheap fast food, I simply followed these 13 steps and learned how to spend less money on food.

1. Cook

You give the most of your money to buying prepared food. What do you think about trying to cook instead? It’s not really that hard, you’ll see once you try it.

Now, I don’t want to hear complaints really. All that whiney stuff about how you can’t cook really gets on my nerves. I couldn’t cook either, but I learned, and so can you. Just follow the recipe, it’s not rocket science for crying out loud.

2. Homemade Stuff

Ok, now that we cleared cooking, here comes another tip. The key to spending less money on food lies in preparing everything you can yourself – from simple stuff like spaghetti sauce, to more complicated like your own jams.

Ok, some stuff are not that easy to make yourself, but some really are. For example, the whole point in making a tomato spaghetti sauce is to take a couple of tomatoes, one carrot and one onion and mix it all in a blender. That’s it – everyone can do that. That sauce is not only cheaper than the one from the store, it is also tastier and healthier. Think about that.

3. Buying in Bulk

Buying in bulk is one of the best ways to save some money, but it’s a bit tricky when it comes to food. You can’t really buy hundred cartons of milk and use them before they expire, right? But there are some other things you can buy like this. If you have a freezer, buy a bigger amount of meat. Cut it in one person portions and freeze in plastic bags. This meat can stay in your freezer for months and you paid for it less because you bought more.

4. Buy by List

pretty woman choosing products in supermarket with list of things to buy

DO NOT EVER go to buy food without carrying a list of things you need. Stick to that list like your life depends on it and don’t buy anything that’s not on it. Don’t put anything you don’t need on the list as well and NEVER go shopping for food when you’re hungry. You’ll just end up buying things you don’t need and spending more money.

5. Track Discounts

Put that bunch of useless catalogues you receive in an actual use and track discounts in the shops nearby. Make a list of things you need to buy and write down how much money it will cost you in a couple of stores. Count the gas money in if you have to drive there, and go to a shop which is the least expensive.

Be careful not to buy things only because they are on sale. You don’t need most of them, and many times they are not actually cheaper. You just see a big sale sign that makes you think they are, while the store has kept the original price.

6. Embrace Coupons

Don’t be too lazy to cut out coupons from magazines and newspapers. This might be a boring job, but once you see how you can pay less with them, you’ll realize that it’s worth the hustle.

Clip and save all the coupons you come across, even those you might not need right now – they could come in handy later. Get a coupon organizer and store them so that they are easy accessible. If you get stuck with something you really don’t need, you can exchange it on the internet for something you do need.

7. Fruits and Veggies in Season

The Girl choose food in supermarket

No matter how much you crave for fresh strawberries in the middle of October, do not waste your money on buying them. Yes, you can find them, but they are usually really expensive and also really tasteless. Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season or buy frozen.

8. Use Leftovers

Do not throw food away. In 99% of the cases, your leftover can be transformed in a new, tasty dish. Just include your imagination in the process and you’ll make it.

Stale bread can be transferred into French toast or bread pudding. Leftovers from pot roast can be made into a casserole, with adding some veggies. Pastry can be frozen and used again. Mashed potatoes can be made into croquettes. There are a lot of great websites, like BBC Good Food, that can provide you with leftovers recipes.

9. No Brands

I used to think that only certain brands of food are good ones. But then I got in a situation that I need to spend less money on food and had to try something else. To tell you the truth, the only difference I noticed between branded and regular food, is in the price.

Of course, this can’t be applied as a general rule, but some products are really not that different. Pasta for example is pretty much the same whichever you buy. Try to give up a couple of brands you usually buy and try something less expensive. Who knows, you might even find something better.

10. Beat The Supermarkets

Supermarkets are always coming up with new ideas how to take your money. They’ll offer you big shopping carts instead of shopping baskets and they will set the music, the light and the smell in a way that you want to spend more money. Be smarter and beat them in their own game.

This is not really as hard to do as you might think. You just have to be informed about the trick the supermarkets use and to use those tricks against them. Find out how in this article.

11. Plan Weekly Meals

Smiling young woman eating a bell pepper in the kitchen

Another great way to spend less money on food is to plan weekly meals. It doesn’t sound really appealing at first, but it is really budget friendly and it makes your life easier.

How many times did you stop and asked yourself “what the hell am I going to eat today?” In moments like this, you usually go out and buy food, right? Prevent all this by making a plan. For example, Monday can be your tuna day, Friday your pasta day and Sunday your pot roast day. Combine different ingredients and recipes but stick to the main thing. You’ll save both time and money.

12. Note What You Throw Away

All of us are throwing away some food. Not only that this is not budget friendly, it is also a very sad thing to do. So, start a list of things you throw away. For example, if you bought five pounds of oranges this month and you had to throw away two – buy three pounds next month. See the pattern? It’s easy, right?

13. Grow Your Own Food

Coming last but most definitely not the least, I have to suggest you to grow your own food if you can. Your backyard is the perfect place for some vegetables. This is not only a good thing for your wallet, it is also a very rewarding experience. Watching tomatoes you’ve planted growing to be ripe, juicy veggies is a great feeling. Plus, you will always know that your food is good, organic and free of pesticides.

So, what do you think now? Could you spend less money on food? I truly believe you can. If you have some extra useful tips, please share them.

About the author


I’m a free spirit who likes to travel, cook and fly. Licensed paraglider pilot, I spend all my spare time flying. In the meantime, I like to share my recipes and travel experiences.

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