40 ways to save money on groceries and cooking

40 ways to save money on groceries and cooking

Tips to help you save money on groceries & cooking

A grocery bill is often a large household expense. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could spend less on groceries and save that money for something else?

We all need to eat and drink, but how do we cut down on what we spend on groceries?

Listed below are 40 ways to help you save money on your groceries and cooking.

Read my tips to find out how you can spend less on food and as result, save more money.

Budget and meal planning

1. Do an ingredients stocktake before you go shopping
Check your store-cupboards, fridge and freezer to see what you already have so that you only buy ingredients that you need.

2. Set a maximum grocery budget (and stick to it!)
Work out how much you can spend on groceries and aim not to go over that amount.

3. Meal plan
Create a weekly, fortnightly or monthly meal plan while referring to your grocery budget and your ingredients stocktake.

4. Write a shopping list (and stick to it!)
Use your meal plan to write a shopping list of ingredients that you will need to buy. Aim only to get the items written on your list.

Going grocery shopping

5. Walk to the shops instead of using the car
If the shops are nearby, take some reusable shopping bags with you and walk to the shops instead of driving. This will save you spending extra money on fuel for your car.

6. Or shop online if you can get free delivery
If you can get free delivery, order your groceries online. This will also help you keep track of your budget as you can view the subtotal as you add items to your online basket.

7. Compare prices at different stores
Compare prices at different supermarkets before you decide where to shop. Always look for the best deals.

8. Shop at supermarkets later in the day
Supermarkets will often reduce the price of perishable items at the end of the day. Look for ‘reduced’ labels on things like bagged salads, fresh bread and yogurt. Always use your judgement when buying reduced items and obviously don’t consume anything that looks or smells as if it is past its best.

9. Shop less often
If you go shopping every week, try budgeting and meal planning for a fortnight’s worth of food & go to the shops fortnightly instead. Alternatively, see if you can plan for a month’s worth of meals and try only shopping once a month.

10. Don’t go shopping when you are hungry
Eat something before you go shopping. When you go food shopping when you are hungry, you are more likely to buy things on impulse that you don’t need.

11. Sign up for loyalty programs and use discount coupons
If you shop regularly at a certain store, sign up for their loyalty program to receive reward points and discount coupons that you can use against your shopping bill.

Buying tips to save money on groceries

12. Buy seasonal fruit and vegetables
Eat with the seasons. Seasonal fruit and veg is often cheaper, better quality and more readily available.

13. Buy fresh fruit & veg from a greengrocer or market
Instead of buying your fruit and veggies from supermarkets, try shopping at a local greengrocers’ or market instead. Their prices will often be cheaper and their produce can often be fresher in quality.

14. Buy locally produced ingredients where possible
Be aware of where your ingredients are produced. Try to pick produce that has been made/grown as close to home as possible. Imported items can often be more expensive due to additional transportation costs.

15. Buy cheap ingredients in bulk
Buy inexpensive items that you use regularly in larger quantities. For example, buy milk in bulk, transfer it into freezer-safe containers and freeze it until you need it.

16. Buy less processed food
Processed food can often be more expensive because it can cost more to produce and it often has more packaging. Try to buy less processed food and instead opt for fresh ingredients that are as close to their natural state as possible.

Meal preparation and storage

17. Store fresh produce properly so it lasts longer
Items like fresh herbs (e.g. basil or parsley) will last longer in the fridge if you snip the base of the stems and place the herbs in a jar that has a small amount of water in the bottom of it.

18. Embrace meal preparation techniques
Create a weekly meal plan, buy some good quality containers, and prepare a week’s worth of food in one go that you can then store in the fridge/freezer. This can save you money, time and effort during a busy week.

19. Make use of your freezer
Extend the ‘life’ of an ingredient or cooked meal by putting it in the freezer. Items like cheddar cheese, bread and some fruit & vegetables are suitable for freezing. Make whole meals and put them in your freezer. For freezer meal inspiration, read Pinch of Yum’s fantastic blog post: 16 Healthy Freezer Meals (That You’ll Actually Love).

Homemade is best

20. Cook from scratch
When possible, try to cook from scratch at home. Buying takeaways or eating at cafés/restaurants will usually cost you more.

21. Cook in bulk and cook several dishes in the oven at once
Save money on electricity or gas by cooking several things at the same time. For example, if you have your oven on to bake a cake, cook a vegetarian lasagne at the same time.

White bread loaf on paper with a wooden board
White bread loaf

22. Make as many homemade items as you can
Make your own sauces, bread, soups and stocks where possible. Not only will they contain less processed ingredients than their shop-bought equivalent, they will often cost less when you make them yourself.

23. Be adaptable with ingredients
For example, if a recipe requires red onions but you only have brown onions, don’t go out and buy red onions, use the brown ones instead. Bulk out mashed potato with cooked cauliflower if you only have a small amount of potatoes and you have lots of spare cauliflower.

24. Use one ingredient for several recipes
Use one ingredient to make several different meals. For example, you can use a whole pumpkin to make soup, dip, risotto, pasta sauce and pumpkin scones.

Food preparation and cooking

25. Use fresh, seasonal fruit or vegetables as a key ingredient
Base a meal around an inexpensive, in season vegetable to make it budget-friendly and often better for you. For example, buy capsicums when they are in season and make vegetarian stuffed capsicums.

26. Use more dried lentils and beans
When you can, use dried lentils and beans in your cooking instead of buying tinned pulses. Dried pulses are often much cheaper and you can buy them in larger packets.

A bowl of vegan broccoli soup with crispy chickpeas
Vegan broccoli soup

27. Make vegetable soups for lunch or dinner
Homemade soups are often very budget-friendly to make. Use a cheap, seasonal vegetable as the key ingredient. For example, make a vegetable-based soup like vegan broccoli soup with crispy chickpeas.

28. Base a meal around eggs
Eggs can be great as a filling and protein-rich meal any time of the day. They are often cheaper to buy than meat, fish or processed, vegetarian meat substitutes. Use eggs to make an omelette for breakfast, to make vegetarian Scotch eggs for lunch, or to make baked egg and beans for dinner.

29. Make your own treats
Save money by making homemade treats instead of buying them. For example, make your own energy balls as a sweet treat.

30. Take a homemade lunch to work
It is easy to spend lots of money if you buy your lunch from a café each day. Instead, make a tasty lunch at home to take with you to work (like savoury toast toppers or mini vegetable tarts).

31. Make your own snacks
Making your own version of your favourite snack can often be cheaper than buying it from a shop. For example, make beetroot chips with sweet potato dip as a flavoursome snack.

Entertaining and cooking for an occasion

32. Make share platters
Got friends or family coming around? Make an inexpensive share platter by cutting up some fresh veggies like cucumber, capsicum and carrot, make a simple dip, bake some breadsticks and chop up a few chunks of cheese.

Vegetarian picnic rolls on a board, with water background
Vegetarian picnic rolls

33. Take homemade food to picnics and barbecues
Instead of taking pre-made, processed items to share at a picnic, barbecue or party, save money by making your own shareable food like vegetarian picnic rolls or cucumber gazpacho salad.

34. Make your own edible gifts
Strapped for cash to buy gifts for Christmas or birthdays? Make edible gifts instead. For example, homemade chocolates, cakes and biscuits make great gifts.

Reduce your food waste

35. Use up food that is close to its expiry date
Regularly check your food’s expiry date and use it up before it goes off or freeze/preserve it (where possible). For example, if you have a large tub of plain yogurt that is close to its expiry date, you could blend it with overripe bananas and freeze it to make frozen yogurt.

Avocado egg with panzanella on a turquoise plate
Avocado egg with panzanella

36. Use your food scraps and cut down on food waste
Throw less food away to save money. Use vegetable peelings to make stocks and soups. Use stale bread to make croutons or panzanella.

37. Eat leftovers for lunch
Made too much for dinner? Take the leftovers for lunch the next day. You will save money by not having to buy or make an additional meal.

Save even more money

38. Eat smaller portions
An easy way to save money on groceries is to eat smaller portions. Your ingredients will last longer if they are portioned into smaller quantities.

39. Grow your own herbs, fruit and vegetables
If you can, grow your own herbs, fruit and vegetables. In particular, fresh herbs can often be expensive to buy from supermarkets. Instead, save money by buying cheap seeds and growing your own herbs in a planter in your garden.

40. Eat more vegetarian or vegan meals
If you are an omnivore, try eating less meat and fish by incorporating more plant-based meals into your diet. Meat and fish can often be expensive to buy (as opposed to vegetables, pulses and eggs) so why not try making a few vegetarian or vegan recipes instead.

Spend less, save more

I hope these tips help you to save money on your groceries and cooking.

If you need inspiration on which recipes to make when you are on a budget, have a look at my budget-friendly recipes.

How do you save money on groceries and cooking?

Let me know by leaving a comment below – I’d love to hear from you.

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