I advised y’all to buy expensive oils to avoid vegetable oil, and when you saw the inside of my pantry you might and figured out that I like to spend money on food. But this blog is supposed to contain some tips on how to save money, right?
So here’s a few, super basic ones. I’ll get into some specifics later, when I focus on how to buy healthy spices, oils, meat, and more.
- Cook instead of eating out! I rarely eat out, and when I do it’s usually because it’s a special occasion. By the way: most restaurants use vegetable oil anyway. Not sure how to cook, much less cook healthy? Check out my recipe for cabbage casserole – it’s incredible easy to make, and it’s cheap. I’d also recommend keeping some (homemade) emergency meals in your freezer so that you’re not tempted to stop at a restaurant.
- Cooking actually means COOKING. Frozen TV dinners and packaged food like Hamburger Helper might be easy, but they’re not healthy and they’re not even particularly cheap, despite how they’re marketed. Guess what else they usually contain? Vegetable oil, lots of sugar, and weird artificial ingredients! If you invest in some staple cooking ingredients – basic spices, flour, sugar, good oils, and vinegar – you can make some delicious meals at an extraordinarily low cost.
- Make a weekly menu – and stick to it. If you plan you what you’ll eat (especially for dinner) for the upcoming week, you can create a very specific shopping list. If you stick to that list, you’ll be less likely to buy things you don’t need and will be able to really use all of the food you buy (how many times have you thrown away food in your fridge that’s gone bad?). Find out how to make an effective meal plan
- Tailor your shopping list around weekly sales and what’s in season. Use several weekly ads from your local grocery stores to determine what’s on sale and which store(s) have the best sales. Typically, in-season produce will be cheaper, and it’s better anyway. You can plan your meals to use what’s in season and inexpensive
- Buy meat in bulk. Whether this means buying a side of beef from a farmer once a year (what I do), or buying Costco’s value pack of 3 pounds of bacon, you will save money if you buy your meat in bulk. You can freeze what you don’t need. If you have a vacuum sealer, your stuff will keep for over a year, but it will still keep for several weeks if wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen in Ziploc bags.
- Focus on produce. Incorporate lots of fruits and veggies into your diet, especially seasonal ones! These items are surprisingly inexpensive, and are super good for you anyway. Keep in mind that produce is often priced by the pound, and prices may seem high…until you weigh the amount that you want and see how cheap it actually is!
- Consider buying discount bread or making your own. You don’t have to eat Wonderbread to get bread for $1 or less! Many markets and bakeries will sell day-old bread for extraordinarily low prices. I often get my bread from a local Italian bakery that only charges $1 for bread that has a hole in the middle when baked – and most of the time, the hole is only in the very center of the bread. You can also make your own bread for very little money – check out my no-knead Irish Soda Bread here. Just make sure that when you’re buying bread, it’s free from vegetable oils and weird filler ingredients.
- Use the scale. No, not to weigh yourself (although feel free to do that at home), but to weigh your produce and other per-pound items. This will help you keep track of what you are spending on each item at the grocery store, and then make sure that you stay on budget. You can also decide to buy a little less – or a little more – of something, once you see how much makes up “one pound.”
- Allow yourself a little money every week to restock. Sometimes you’ll need to buy flour, sugar, vinegar, or oregano. Be mindful of this, and allow a little wiggle room in your budget. If you don’t use all your money one week, don’t blow it on something trivial, but think about what staple you might be getting a little low on. If you really don’t need anything else, save it for the following week.
- Avoid junk food. Snacking on fruit, veggies, and peanut butter is not only healthy, but budget friendly. Although potato chips and soda might seem inexpensive – especially since they always seem to be on sale – they add up quickly, especially considering how quickly people tend to eat them. Junk food doesn’t do a very good job of filling you up, doesn’t provide much nutrition – if any – and probably adds a surprising cost to your grocery bill. And hey, if you really want potato chips, you can make your own. After after all, raw potatoes are one of the cheapest foods in existence.
No matter what sorts of food your buy, or how healthy you eat, you should be able to benefit from those tips. And lets be honest…everybody trying to homestead can benefit from saving some money. Dirt and animal feed are expensive guys.