11 Tips to Spend Less on Eating In

by POPSUGAR Smart Living on 22 August 2012 4 comments
Photo: SanFranAnnie

Although we've shared plenty of tricks to save on eating out, you should also be conscious of cutting costs when eating in. Food in general can get pretty expensive, so even when you're cooking at home, it can become one of your biggest expenses. Here are some great ways to save when you're eating at home.

RELATED: How to Save Money at the Farmers Market

Don't Buy Too Much

Sometimes it can seem like a good deal to buy in bulk, but you're wasting money if you aren't able to finish what you purchased. Unless you can find a way to preserve the food, you should limit how much you buy. Try not to buy raw brown rice, cooking oil, and these other items in bulk, as they can go bad quickly.

Freeze Your Food

If you have the space, a deep freezer may be a good investment for the items you are able to freeze. And if you're wondering what can be frozen, almost anything can. However, some items may not taste as good after being frozen, such as vegetables and fruits that have a high water content, because they can possibly lose their texture when you're defrosting them. But they are generally safe to eat, so it's all about personal preference. There are many people who can attest to freezing every grocery item imaginable such as eggs and milk, so I would experiment to see what works for you. Personally, bread and cooked rice are two of my favorite items to freeze. Be sure to freeze your food in small portions so you don't have to keep refreezing your food, which can make the food less fresh and lower its quality.

Preserve It

There are definitely other methods of extending the life of your grocery items besides freezing them. Explore other ways to preserve such as canning, drying, and pickling. More suggestions can be found here.

Be Healthy

You'll be surprised to learn that a healthy lifestyle will actually get you a lower grocery bill. There's a study by the Journal of the American Dietetic Association that revealed families who went on weight-loss diets also spent less on food. That's because they were reducing their portion sizes and buying less unhealthy food such as soda and chips. It's a win-win situation; by being more healthy, you will also be able to save on your medical bills.

Know Where to Get the Cheapest Groceries

It's important to learn how to save when you're at the grocery store, but it's just as crucial to know where to shop. Ethnic supermarkets, local orchards, and negotiating at the farmers market can be a bargain. Don't be afraid to check out alternative grocery sources such as the dollar store, a nearby pharmacy, or gas stations. Make a note on what you spend most on when you're grocery shopping, then compare the prices at these different locations. It may sound like a lot of work, but once you know where to buy certain items, you won't have to comparison shop until you notice a price increase.

Know the Frugal but Filling and Healthy Staples

There are some food staples that are cheaper than others, such as beans. Figure out what they are, and try to incorporate them more into your meals. You can also always go for cheaper cuts and buy meats whole and bone-in as they are more affordable in those forms.

Mix It Up

Making a certain type of frugal meal can get old, and when you start getting bored, you may start craving restaurant food. Be creative with your meals and change up things like sandwich fillings. Sometimes the oddest pairings work really well. Take a look at your pantry and experiment!

Crockpot Cooking

A crockpot is a frugal cook's best friend, because not only is it easy to make a slow-cooked meal with a few ingredients, but you'll also have leftovers that can be easily stored in the freezer. Take inspiration from FitSugar's one-pot healthy recipes.

Coupon

Watching "Extreme Couponing" on TV can be overwhelming, but there are some couponing techniques that are actually quite doable. You can access online coupons before you go into a grocery store and take a note of what's on sale before buying. You can become a member of your grocery store's reward club to take advantage of special prices. Check out these realistic insider tips from an extreme couponer.

Use Leftovers for Lunch

Another way to keep your meals exciting is to use leftovers (either from a restaurant or home-cooked meal) the next day or to freeze what you have in the fridge for another day. You can also take leftovers and create an entirely new meal to spice things up, such as turning leftover steak into stir-fry or using fish as a salad topping.

Incorporate Meal Fails With Your Meal

You don't have to throw something away if you happen to dislike it. Just like leftovers, you can create an entirely new meal out of them. What doesn't taste good on its own can taste better when mixed with the right ingredients! And if something is overcooked, you can probably cut out the burnt parts and use the rest of it for another dish.

This is a guest contribution from our friends at SavvySugar. Check out more useful articles from this partner:

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Meg Favreau's picture

Oooh, I love the challenge of finding ways to use foods I ruined. The other day I made some rosemary shortbread that crumbled when I tried to take it out of the pan, so I ended up pressing it into a pie dish and covering it with lemon curd -- it made an AWESOME tart!

Guest's picture

I love crockpots! Nothing like a slow-cooked meal and the least preparation anyone could imagine. Throw it all in, turn it on, go to work, come back and enjoy! Mmmm Yumm.

Guest's picture

Great tips! I love cooking in my crockpot. I use it at least once a week. Definitely frugal and a huge time saver!

Guest's picture

These are some really good tips. My grandmother used to pickle her leftover veggies like asparagus, peppers, and of course cucumbers, and they were delicious! I always buy most of my groceries at the Walmart that is buy my house. It has much cheaper items that are the same quality as at the regular grocery store, and my receipt usually read about $20 cheaper when I buy stuff from there. Using all that you buy is key; throwing away food is literally throwing away money.