4 Smart Tips to Save Money on Food

I love food and I enjoy eating really good food. But lately,  I'm finding that my grocery bill is a big expense. Every time the cashier rings up my groceries bill, I see how the rising food prices, a tough economy and limited household incomes is affecting my budget.

Obviously, food is a necessity, but I am also looking for ways to save money but it has to be worth my time and effort.

With a bit of research, I have found cost effective ways to make sure I'm getting the right kind of nutrients while saving a few rands.

So here are 4 Smart Tips to Save Money on Food

Cooking my own meals. I generally don't enjoy cooking and my thoughts when thinking about this is were would it actually save money, and is it worth the time investment, effort and clean up? So I had to try it to see. Since last year June, I have been cooking all my meals from scratch 👊. And yes, there’s definitely a trade off between saving money and time. I do what I can with the limited time I have and it all adds up. At the end of the day, it’s about what works for you. I am seeing the savings from cooking more at home. Once you get into the “swing” of it, it very quickly becomes just as easy as heating up pre~made chicken.
What I find helpful is making my food as a ready-to-go. I make my own pizza (usually 6 at a time), mash potatoes, burger patties, pancakes, chicken, cookie dough. These are all my favourite foods. And I've also learned to make my own mayonnaise – it’s basically just oil, eggs, vinegar and lemon juice and tastes so much better! I am seeing the savings from cooking more at home
If you are mother of a baby, learn to make your own baby food. I know more and more of my friends are breastfeeding and making their own baby food. And cost of formula and jar foods are a major factor in their decisions.

The freezer is my friend. Let me assure you that most foods can be frozen with little to no loss of taste and texture. Many are even improved— curries, soups, and stews develop an even richer and more complex flavour by freezing before eating. And according to research freezing retards the growth of microorganisms and enzymes that cause food spoilage. It is so much easier when I can just grab something from the freezer on those days I don’t feel like cooking. So before I freeze anything, I make sure I label them properly, tape a piece of paper to the outside of the lid and I write, or cross off, the food packets as they are added or taken from the freezer. 

I am learning to cooking with less ingredients. Preparing food from scratch gives you a chance to be artistic, creative and imaginative.  I used to spend a lot of money on expensive ingredients because I wanted beautiful made meals. But I had to learn to work smarter.  Seriously, food doesn’t have to be fancy to be yummy and healthy. Sometimes the most simple ingredients can create the most delicious dishes. Just because there are lots of fancy recipes out there doesn’t mean you have to try to create all of them. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many ingredients and steps. Keep it simple! And now the thought of making a picture perfect meal every day makes me exhausted.

I buy store brands. Nowadays, when I go to the grocery store, I mostly buy store-brand items. I find Spar and Pick n Pay brands better than most. They almost always are of equal quality to the expensive brands.  In many cases the store brands are the exact same product made by the same factory, just put into a different box. So I encourage you to try some store brands on your next shopping trip and find out what you like. It will cost you less money to try them, and you might actually like what you get. And yes not all of them are cheap, but most are.  And for vegetables, fruit and herbs, I visit a farmers' markets where I find fresh food which is often cheaper than the grocery store.

So this are the four ideas I have incorporated. When I started, I used to do meal planning and honestly, I struggled with that. I like to listen to my body and then decide from there what I want to eat. Generally, I am able to work with what I have in the fridge so that's a good thing.

I suggest that you make small changes each month, so that the changes will be sustainable and not overwhelming. Once you start to makes changes like this in one part of your life you realize how easy it is and slowly can incorporate them into other parts of your life.

Do you have some good tips to add? Please share in the comments!

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