Truth be told, we weren’t the best at saving money on groceries when we were trying to get out of debt, so we looked for every blog post we could on the subject to help us save.
Not every cost-cutting strategy worked for a couple of foodies like us, but here’s what we use most often.
Tip #1 Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA)
Having a CSA share is our way of supporting local farmers here in the Garden Spot. Purchasing fresh, seasonal vegetables and fruit means cutting out the middleman (grocery store), so big savings for us and more profit for farmers.
Most of the stuff in our share is picked the same day — it doesn’t get much fresher than that. In the six months a year that we have the CSA share, we seldom purchase produce from the local grocery store. Once you buy direct from farmers, it’s hard to go back.
Tip #2 Meal Planning
When we plan our meals on Sunday, do our grocery shopping on Sunday, and prep all of our dinners on Sunday, the whole week becomes much, much easier (and less expensive).
When we don’t plan our meals, we run out of food (and creativity) by Thursday, so we find ourselves using a whole lot of excuses to go out to eat at a restaurant.
Over the last several months, we’ve slowly changed how we eat and our approach to food (read: food is fuel, not entertainment). We eliminated most refined carbohydrates in favor of whole foods and we’re working toward 16/8 intermittent fasting. With just two meals per day of vegetables and protein, meal planning is easier.
However, it’s been a struggle to stay consistent, which is why we’re trying something new (keep reading to find out what crazy new thing we’re trying!).
Tip #3 Shop After Dinner
Three reasons why I try to shop after dinner during the week:
Ibotta is a FREE app you can use to "clip" digital coupons and save money at the grocery store. To get started, you can use this Ibotta grocery coupon app link when you sign up for an account online, before you download the app, to get a bonus.
I’m full, so I’m less likely to engage in impulse shopping.
Stores are less crowded, so it’s faster to get the shopping done.
I’m usually sitting on my butt after dinner, so this gets me up and moving around.
Shopping overnight is also ideal as that’s usually the time when shelves are getting restocked!
Tip #4 Shop Using a Grocery List
Make a list and stick to it. Seriously, this is my biggest problem because I tend to shop when I’m hungry. We spend a whole lot less when we’re prepared with a shopping list.
Using our meal plan, we try to make a shopping list for an entire week. This way, we don’t waste money on gas driving to the store multiple times per week because we’re unprepared.
Tip #5 Coupons
Clipping coupons isn’t always worth the time it takes because you could start a side hustle that makes more money per hour than you’d save with coupons.
However, the Ibotta app makes this whole process a little easier, so consider reading my Ibotta app review because it might be right for you. (Ibotta is FREE!)
Tip #6 Shop at ALDI or Grocery Surplus Stores
If you aren’t picky about brands, you’ll love ALDI. We start our grocery shopping excursion at ALDI before going elsewhere because they’re the low-price leader for most of the stuff we buy.
D & K is a grocery surplus store nearby that had a lot of processed stuff nearly expired. There are actually a whole lot more of grocery surplus stores in our area, which I think great when shopping for parties.
Tip #7 Hire a Personal Chef
Seriously. Hang with me for this one.
Food is something we continue to struggle with. In terms of our diet, we try to eat few carbs and little dairy for health reasons. Going from “grabbing a pizza on a Friday” thinking to “every meal requires preparation” is something that hasn’t stuck with us, so we’re either A) making bad food choices or B) eating the same thing daily.
Sometimes, we rock the meal plan.
Sometimes, we rock the meal prep.
Sometimes, we even manage to cook food that tastes like something we’d want to eat.
However, we’ve been so inconsistent that we decided to try something completely different to address our self-imposed problems. We hired a personal chef.
Chef Bill is actually like a personal caterer. Here’s how his service works…
Chef Bill sends menus to us and we get to select however many meals we want. He has suggested pairings as well as low-carb and low-calorie a la carte options.
If we’re out of town, we don’t pay for the service — no meals, no $.
If we’re in town, we could choose to have an entire week’s worth of dinners dropped off on Monday.
Our goal in hiring Chef Bill is to free up as much time as possible and to keep us out of restaurants, which is a bad habit born of our own laziness. So we plan to use Chef Bill temporarily in this busy season of business travel.
Because Chef Bill buys all the food for what we select, we spend less time and money grocery shopping, especially because the portions are larger than we can consume for dinner, so we had lunch most days. Chef Bill is less expensive than going to restaurants, but more expensive than preparing our own food; read more about how much a personal chef costs and see if it might be worth trying.
What’s interesting about personal finance and cutting expenses?
At a certain point, there won’t be any other expenses to cut! Depending on how aggressive you are with cutting all of your expenses, you’ll run out of expenses to cut. Consider how you plan to increase your income, too!