Kylie Ofiu is the author of 365 Ways To Make Money. She blogs about ways to make and save money as well as her goal to become a millionaire by the time she is 30 (April 2015) at Kylie Ofiu. You can also follow her on twitter and Facebook.
One easy way to save more money is to reduce the food bill. In our house half the family are gluten intolerant, which means if you want the food you are used to you can pay 3 – 6 times the price of regular food. I have had to work out some ways to keep our food bill low whilst still catering for everyone’s needs.
Some of the ways I have done this are:
- Source free food where possible
- Eat in season
- Know your prices and shop to sales
- Buy in bulk
- Shop at certain times
- Menu plan
- Shop with a list
Source Free Food
This has been our biggest one lately since my husband has not had much work. Sites such as this one have loads of food you can harvest for free. Simply look up your location to see what is close to you. Alternatively learn more about plants and what is in your local area. Many weeds such as dandelions can actually be used in salads. They can be passed off as ‘fancy’ lettuce and if picked young are actually sweet.
There is also friends and neighbours who might be willing to swap food they grow for other things.
As for meat, if you have the equipment, or someone you know does, you could go fishing. There are so many ways to serve fish and so many varieties. Fresh fish is delicious and better yet, you can freeze it.
Eat in Season
Fruit and vegetables are cheaper when they are in season. Now days you can pretty much buy anything at any time thanks to long term cold storage, but if you shop at farmers markets, not only are they often cheaper but you are shopping in season. Buying fruit and vegetables when they are fresh results in more nutrients as well; they will make you feel fuller than ones which have been stored for a long time.
This doesn’t just go for fruit and vegetables. Around Christmas stores get in a lot of hams. After Christmas they sit there and if you keep watching they get reduced and reduced and you can end up getting them for bargain prices. When you get home, slice it up, freeze it in portions and make pea and ham soup with the bone.
Know your prices and shop to sales
Prices can vary greatly from store to store, even when they are right next to each other. Watch the prices you pay to see what is the cheapest you can get things for, then endeavour to get things at that price always. Various items are on sale each week and the sales tend to be cyclical. When an item comes on sale, buy enough for a few weeks worth until the next sale so you never have to pay retail prices.
Buy in bulk
If you know your prices you will be able to tell if that bulk buy is really a good price or not. There are more and more places you can buy in bulk now, but be careful not to spend up because the prices are great if you can’t use it all. It is better to pay a little more for a smaller package you will actually eat than to pay less but throw away half a large packet.
One way to make really great savings with bulk buys is by looking at reduced sections. If you see a section that has a lot of long life items being reduced, speak to a manager and find out the price if you bought the whole lot. My sister in law does this and has got some amazing bargains such as packets of biscuits (think Tim Tams and Mint Slice) as well as chips and things which when she bought the whole lot got reduced to about 10 – 20 cents a packet! It was split between the family and we all had snacks for months!
Items are not always reduced because of use by dates. Sometimes packaging is changing, a store is no longer stocking the item or they ordered too many and need to off load some.
Shop at certain times
It takes a little practice but you can learn when where you shops starts to mark things down. I have found about 30 minutes before closing meat and deli items get drastically reduced. Markets do the same in the last hour. Farmers don’t want to pack up their produce and take it home so often reduce items drastically.
Another good time to shop is the day before a new sale. Often if you go in the afternoon you can take advantage of both sale prices, making shopping cheaper and easier.
If you keep a look out some stores are regularly filling bags with fresh produce for as low as $2. Some do it at regular times, others randomly. If you can learn your store patterns, it can save you a lot.
It may seem like a pain sitting down and working out what meals you are going to have, but it makes life and shopping easier. Setting a menu plan helps you use up what you have in the cupboards, plan meals in advance, and reduce wastage.
For example, if you have sports after school one day, so you come home late, you could do a meal in the slow cooker that day, so it is ready when you get home and you are less likely to get take away.
I have written about menu planning here.
Shop with a list
When you have a menu plan, you know what is in your cupboards and what you need to buy. You can then make a shopping list and if you stick to buying only what is on your list you can save a lot. When I have shopped without a list, we end up throwing extra items in the trolley.
Keep a piece of paper on your fridge, then when you run out of items you can add them to the list, this way you can ensure you don’t forget things and end up making 2 trips!
Thanks Kylie! Definitely great tips to think about. For more money saving ideas, head on over to Kylie's "31 Days of Money" blog tour, or purchase a copy of Kylie's fabulous book!
What methods have you used to help reduce your food bill?