If you are trying to lower your grocery budget, one of the simplest things to do is to eat food that costs less. I know, a real brainstorm, right?!
But, seriously, eating inexpensive foods can really save you a lot of money at the grocery store. And, contrary to popular belief, you can actually eat tasty, healthy foods while on a budget.
I learned this a few years ago when my family’s finances were in fairly dire straits. Our grocery budget was $35 a week for a family of 3–so you know I had to find frugal foods! I researched everything I could find on menu planning, grocery budgets, and saving at the store.
One of the best resources I found was Grocery University by Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom. This audio course helped me become a pro at meal planning on a super tight budget!
Here are some of the “secret weapons” of frugal people, the:
15 Foods Frugal People Eat
Oatmeal is filling, healthy, and seriously cheap. You can add in raisins, fruit, cinnamon, or nuts if you would like for some additional flavor. Altogether you’ll spend less than a quarter on breakfast with this frugal foodie’s dream.
There is a reason why the majority of the world eats a lot of rice–it is just so inexpensive. Adding rice as a side dish to your meal is an easy way to fill up a family without spending a lot of money. Some of my favorite ways to do this are: rice with sausage and pineapple, rice and beans, and rice with milk and cinnamon and sugar for breakfast.
For such an inexpensive food, beans pack a real nutritional punch. You can use canned beans, but true frugalistas know that using dried beans will save you the most in the long run. I will often cook up a big pot of beans, place then in small baggies, and freeze them for later meals. Crock Pot Refried Beans are another family favorite.
Soup can be a great way to use up leftovers–making it a fantastic frugal meal. Just grab any leftover meat you have on hand, some pasta or rice or potatoes, throw in a few veggies, and add Homemade Vegetable Stock over it all. Quick, tasty, and super cheap!
The cost of meat today is ridiculous. If you want to add protein into your diet without breaking the bank, eggs should be your best friend. Scrambled, fried, poached, or in an omelette or frittata–all varieties are delicious! In fact, eggs belong in several of my 8 Frugal Meals to Make When You Don’t Feel Like Cooking.
I absolutely love potatoes. They are so tasty, filling, and versatile. You can use them as a side dish or let them take center stage in a hash or Potato Tacos.
I was late coming to the lentil party. I just really wasn’t sure what to do with the things! However, once I got over my fear, I quickly learned to love them. Now I add lentils to taco meat in order to stretch it a bit farther, add then to soups to make them heartier, and eat them plain as an excellent side dish.
8. Discounted Meat
I never pay full price for meat. I mean, seriously, have you seen the price of beef lately? Instead I stalk the manager’s special section of my store’s meat department. There I find great deals on meat that is nearing its expiration date (I put the meat into the freezer as soon as I get home.) I have even asked the store manager when certain meats might go on sale and been pleasantly surprised at the discounts they offered me just because I asked!
Bananas are filled with nutrients for just pennies. If you have a limited budget for fresh fruit, bananas are definitely the way to go. I also will buy overripe bananas that have been marked down, freeze them, and use them for smoothies later. Yum!
10. In-Season Produce
One of the best ways to save money on fruits and vegetables is to buy them in season. A box of strawberries will cost you up to $4 in the winter but less than $2 in the spring/summer. It’s a no-brainer! Learn which foods are in season in your area and then plan your menu around those items. You’ll end up saving money AND eating tastier food.
11. Inexpensive Bread
I am absolutely in love with the discount bread store. For years I stayed away, thinking that I wouldn’t eat moldy bread just to save a buck. Then I decided to check it out. I am so glad I did! The bread is just day old Nature’s Own bread. Each loaf is just $1. Crazy! I stock up and freeze it for later. (Learn about the other Foods that Frugal People Freeze.)
More and more people are embracing the idea of a “Meatless Monday” or some other day where they prepare a vegetarian entree. Going meatless a couple times a week will definitely save you money. Cheese dishes are perfect for those nights. The cheese adds a bit of protein and a ton of flavor. Some of my favorites are homemade pizza, cheese enchiladas, and homemade macaroni and cheese.
13. Breakfast for Dinner
Each week I plan at least one “breakfast for dinner” meal. Since I work outside the home and have a crazy schedule, I don’t have time to make cooked breakfasts most days. So, my kids love eating pancakes, omelettes, pumpkin waffles, and muffins at night. The meals are generally egg-based, so they are quite frugal.
I also plan a pasta night each week. I love that pasta is easy to make, filling, and uses meat as a side dish. I can make enough fettuccine alfredo to feed my family of 5 while using just one chicken breast. That is some serious savings!
Finally, you really can’t call yourself a frugal person unless you eat leftovers! I bring leftovers to work each day for lunch–saving me hundreds of dollars over the course of a year. It’s one of the Top 10 Most Frugal Things that I Do. Eating leftovers saves money, eliminates waste, and helps lower your grocery bill. Score!
(P.S. Don’t forget to check out Grocery University. It only costs $10, which you will easily make back in your first few shopping trips!)
Planning your weekly menus and shopping lists around frugal foods like these can save you money and help you reach your financial goals.
What other frugal foods would you add to this list?
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