Keeping Your Dollars: Saving On Groceries

by Tammy Taylor

*includes affiliate link

In keeping with our theme of keeping those hard-earned dollars in your pocket where they belong, today we’re looking at trimming waste from your grocery budget.  We all may have different reasons for wanting to cut back – maybe a large unexpected bill needs to be paid, maybe you’re saving up for a new home or car, or maybe there’s too much month and just not quite enough money to get to the end of it.  For me the motivation was a desire to have a lighter footprint and convenience foods came with a shocking amount of over-packaged waste.   It’s interesting though that my desire to have a lighter footprint also saved substantial amounts of money from our grocery budget.  Whatever your motivation, one of the worst budget hits is wasted food so make sure all the food you buy goes to fulfilling your family’s nutritional requirements. The good news is that there are many easy ways to make the most of your food dollars.

There Are LOTS Of Super-Easy Ways To Save On Groceries.  Come See What Works Best For Us. #TaylorMadeRanch

As I mentioned my goal was initially borne from environmental awareness.  It bothered me to see multiple mammoth-sized trash cans lined up at the curb at each and every house TWICE A WEEK – every week – back when we lived in the city. All that trash, where does it come from? I started noticing where our home’s trash came from and it was shocking to see the over-packaged waste in our consumer products. So I started mindfully reducing the amount of trash I brought into our home. Of course I was already recycling everything I could but recycling – although better than landfill-bound trash – is still trash needing to be dealt with.  I became more focused on PREcycling – not bringing it into the house to begin with.  Boxes and cans of convenience foods were replaced with real honest-to-goodness ingredients and I began cooking from scratch. And those non-recyclable cups from my favorite morning yogurt were eliminated by learning to make my own homemade yogurt in single-serving reusable 1/2-pint canning jars.  Each new step I made was successful in eliminating trash from going to the landfill but amazingly those steps also saved lots of money from our grocery budget.  Over the years I’ve gained more & more confidence to produce for myself those things I used to buy, and I now typically make my meals, desserts &  spice mixes from scratch.  Now lest you be very misled yes, convenience foods make an appearance from time to time in my kitchen – for me it’s all about moderation and I’m certainly no SuperWoman.  But here are many ways I’ve been able to save lots of money on our grocery budget:

  • Cook-once eat-twice – Go ahead & make a LOT of that favorite entree tonight.  Enjoy a portion for supper & freeze the rest in portion-sized servings.  Now home-cooked healthy meals are as close as your freezer. Just pull out your main dish the night before and allow it to thaw overnight in the fridge. Then for supper all you have to do is heat up your main dish, add a couple of veggie sides and voila – supper from scratch in literally minutes!
  • Planned leftovers – That leftover roast you enjoyed tonight can be turned into pulled pork BBQ another night.  Leftover mashed potatoes can be made into potato cakes.
  • Make Soup! – Keep a container in the freezer and add bits of leftover food and even juice drained from cans of veggies & you’ll be on your way to a great starter point for homemade soup.  I like to make endless soup to keep me in hot lunches for a week – it’s EASY, healthy & very inexpensive!
  • Store leftovers in repurposed see-through containers – That leftover food has already been bought and prepared so all the hard work has already been done.  Don’t let those leftovers sit in the fridge until they become a science fair experiment, keep ’em where you can see ’em & eat those leftovers either for supper the next night or maybe for lunch instead of eating out.

There Are LOTS Of Super-Easy Ways To Save On Groceries.  Come See What Works Best For Us. Store Food In See-Thru Repurposed Jars. #TaylorMadeRanch

  • Use stale food in another dish – Turn that stale bread into french toast or bread crumbs, lightly-soured milk is good for any baked good that calls for buttermilk such as biscuits or pancakes. Potatoes that are starting to get soft can be cooked into mashed potatoes.  You get the idea – use it up!
  • Use all your food, even traditionally wasted parts – Washed veggie peelings or the bones / skin of chicken, turkey or steak can be made into healthy broth. By following my procedure that delicious broth’s lower in fat too!
  • Grow a garden for fresh veggies – This one gets bonus points for exercise too since gardening often results in a healthy workout as well.  Oh and it looks pretty too!
  • Preserve the veggies you can’t eat fresh – By either canning, freezing, dehydrating.
  • Don’t buy more than you can eat – No need to just grab that entire bunch of bananas and head for the register – it’s ok to pull off 3-4 from the bunch if that’s all you’ll eat before they go bad.  And I’ve found that oftentimes when I’m buying fruit by the pound I get more value buying the smaller-sized bananas, apples, etc.  Typically when eaten as a snack it’s one fruit, large or small.  I can get more smaller fruits by the pound than larger ones.
  • Second guess things you buy already prepared in the store – Buy popsicle molds and make your own popsicles using sweetened yogurt, the syrup drained from canned fruits, or this recipe for fudgesicles.  A fresh jalapeno or sliced cucumber can go into an empty jalapano or pickle jar – the brine leftover in those empty jars will pickle that fresh cucumber or those jalapenos for very little cost and with no waste.
  • Choose Less Expensive Snacks – Expensive colas were replaced with sun-brewed tea (Trifecta win – hugely less expensive, much healthier and less trash since the teabag just goes into my * tumbling composter) Popcorn is a fun inexpensive snack but I hated the waste! We buy a bag of popcorn kernels for about a dollar and it pops up GALLONS of popcorn with very little landfill waste.
  • Use coupons only when they save money over buying the generic brand or for name-brands that really matter to you. There are sites on the internet that have done the legwork for you showing sales prices, locations of coupons & how much you can save at various grocery stores.  One of my faves is Couponing101.com because Stephanie focuses on smart couponing, NOT extreme couponing. 

These tips worked great for keeping our grocery budget low, but we’re all in different places in our lives and what works well for an empty-nester family might not work as well for a young family just starting out. What are some of your favorite ways to save those hard earned dollars on your grocery budget?

~TMR~

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45 thoughts on “Keeping Your Dollars: Saving On Groceries

  1. Kerry

    Some great idea! I try my best to use as much of our food as possible. Usually we are pretty good about not throwing too much out. I also feel like having a CSA is resourceful. You use what you are given and tend to use it all.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      I’ve heard belonging to a CSA is a great way to get serious about using it all Kerry, and even helps in getting creative since there are sometimes veggies that some people aren’t familiar with. Love it. ~TMH~

      Reply
  2. Jamie @ Medium Sized Family

    Great tips! I especially like cooking once and putting some back for later. I don’t do that nearly often enough.

    Reply
  3. Melissa French, The More With Less Mom

    Homemade stock is the best, you can taste the love in there. Thanks for posting. Hello from Treasure Box Tuesday.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      I’ve just recently started pressure canning the stock Melissa. Although I still have plastic jars of it in the freezer, I’m loving the convenience option of popping the top. ~TMH~

      Reply
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  5. Amanda

    Great tips Tammy! My husband and I have significantly reduced our waste each week from where we were a year ago. Now we usually only have 1, sometimes 2, bags of trash in our extra large trash can. Of course, we do still have our recycling bin too. It’s always amazed me how much trash an average family produces–out of sight out of mind. It’s sad really. Thank you for sharing at Merry Monday, I always look forward to reading your posts!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Amanda I think convenience food often comes with massive amount of trash. On the other hand, ‘ingredients’ usually come with pretty basic utilitarian packaging. I can throw the paper sack from a bag of flour into the composter, but the plastic wrappings from a package of cookies must be thrown away (or recycled when possible). ~TMR~

      Reply
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  8. elaine

    Thanks for linking up on My 2 Favorite Things on Thursday!! Hope you come back this Thursday and share some more!! I love having you! Pinned!

    Reply
  9. elaine

    Great Tips!! Thanks for linking up on My 2 Favorite Things on Thursday!! Hope you come back this Thursday and share some more!! I love having you! Pinned!

    Reply
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  12. Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    Love this post as our family does all of these things. I really like the idea of precycling! I started cooking from scratch in order to save money, but I also noticed how much less trash we were generating. We now only have trash pick-up twice a month. That has saved us additional money. Thanks for sharing these tips. (If you or your readers would like a few more, I wrote a post called 17+ Things We Don’t Pay For.) Blessings.

    Reply
  13. Terri Presser

    Excellent ideas here, thank you for the encouragement and for sharing at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings

    Reply
  14. All that's Jas

    We love leftovers! Thanks for the money saving tips they are always welcome! So glad you linked it with us at Thursday Favorite Things! XO (btw, hope that cow on the left is ok) 🙂

    Reply
  15. Danielle

    Great tips for saving money! Too many times I end up throwing out food and it makes me so sad (some times it’s due to the fact that the meal really didn’t taste great, so no one wants to eat it again). One of my favorite things about cooking a whole chicken is using the bones to make broth for soup! I’d really love to get into making beef broth, but rarely do I buy beef with bones. Thanks again for linking up with Idea Box!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      I have meals that don’t go over well sometimes too Danielle. My handsome RancherMan is pretty tolerant thankfully but if it’s something he really doesn’t care for I can usually either remake it into something else or have it for lunch myself, since I have an even more varied palate than him. Leftovers almost always gets eaten one way or the other. ~TMR~

      Reply
  16. Ashleigh

    Happy Thursday and thank you so much for linking up with OMHG WW! Please come and share with us again next week! xx Ashleigh @SimplyWright Co-Host, Oh My Heartsie Girls Wordless Wednesday Link Up

    Reply
  17. Gentle Joy

    Great ideas – there are so many ways to reduce what we use…and throw away. We find it funny that our big family usually has less trash at the curb than many smaller families… but we don’t buy much convenience food either. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      I remember noticing how much trash the average household was hauling to the curb twice a week, it made me focus even more strongly on our own waste. Come to find out it’s easy to cut the trash if you’re mindful of your purchases. ~TMR~

      Reply
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  23. Terri Presser

    Once again a great post and very informative, we are all looking to save money these days. Thanks for linking up at good morning mondays. Blessings

    Reply
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  25. Chrystal @ YUM eating

    One of my best money savers is using a whole chicken. When I buy a whole chicken we’ll roast it with some vegetables one night. After dinner we pull off any unused meat and store it until the next day. Then I will put all bones, skin and random pieces in another bag to store. In the morning I take that bag and slow simmer it most of the day to make chicken stock. I’ll either freeze that chicken stock or use it to make a batch of homemade chicken noodle soup. Then I will use the leftover chicken and we make our own noodles.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      How funny Chrystal, I have turkey bones simmering on the stove as we speak. I was going to can the resulting broth but it’s simmered down beautifully, so I’m thinking I’ll use much of it fresh & then with what little’s left I’ll freeze some in plastic peanut butter jars. Tonight’s use will be a version of chicken & dumplings (except with turkey) and I’ll put some in the fridge to make a batch of soup tomorrow to warm our bones for lunch for a couple of days. 🙂 ~TMR~

      Reply
  26. Kimberly

    Oh my! Fabulous post! Pinned and tweeted. We always love partying with you, I hope to see you Monday at 7 pm at our party. Happy Saturday! Lou Lou Girls

    Reply
  27. Ashley @ PioneerMomma.com

    Precycling is a genius concept, but not a lot of people remember to do it. I recently started keeping EVERY glass jar or container that comes into the house (I promise not hoarding status, I really do use them lol) and it has been a big help with food storage. Thanks for sharing your tips! Pinned and shared 🙂

    Reply
  28. Silence Dogood

    Love it! We do so many of these things in our home too! Making from scratch, freezing extras, eating leftovers, using the “stale” items, etc. My family and I love to read your blog for new ideas on leaving frugally, green and self-sufficiently! Silence

    Reply
  29. Judith C

    Oh wow, I had no idea you could put cucumbers in the leftover pickle juice! Now that our daughter is grown and gone we actually have pickle juice left when the pickles are gone. I guess the one thing that I make that made a huge difference in our grocery bill is the Laundry Sauce. Not having to buy that huge jug at Sam’s is pretty nice too.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      I’ve done that on numerous occasions Judith, it works great. You might wanna shake the jar every few days to make sure the cucumbers stay bathed in the vinegar juice or they could start to mold. (I’ve only had that happen once) After a few days of shaking you should be fine – let them “pickle” for about a month or so and BOOM! Pickles. ~TMR~

      Reply
      1. Jean

        This was my most favorite tip too! And I had never thought of reusing glass jars for leftovers. They just always went into the recycle bin. Great ideas here, thanks!!

        Reply
  30. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

    HI, I linked to the compost tumbler the way I did in this post because I’m hearing some people want either a smaller or larger composter, or a composter with dual chambers, etc. There are lots of options these days! But I have the lifetime composter –> http://amzn.to/1r0W8Qg (affiliate link) It’s a 65-gallon tumbling composter and I’ve had it for several years – it works great! I’m having RancherMan look into your question about the notifications after comments are made. Thanks for the suggestion. ~TMR~

    Reply
  31. villarosa

    Always great posts! Thank you for the great ideas! I wondered which compost tumbler you use after going to the Amazon link you provided that listed several different brands? Thank you! Wish there was a selection on this page to be notified when you answer my question…

    Reply
  32. Mary P

    I am single, retired and love to cook. I make almost all my meals from scratch, and plan ahead to use leftovers, either for meals on the following day or by freezing in portion-sized batches. However, I still tend to have prepared food that has no home because I am just tired of eating that particular dish. I found the perfect solution – a young, single friend on a tight budget who is very appreciative of anything I want to send his way. This could also be a real blessing for someone who is on a tight budget, has difficulty cooking or just plain doesn’t like to.

    Reply

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