Food prices continue to rise, making it harder and harder to eat healthy meals on a budget. Here are my frugal food tips that will help you save money on quality ingredients and enjoy mealtime with your family.
However, I’ve found the reverse to be true when I take a minute to stop and look at what I’m actually getting for my money. Here are the money saving food tips I use to stay on budget while still enjoying quality nutritious and delicious meals.
- It’s important to stay organized with a meal plan.
- Make homemade meals instead of boxed/frozen meals.
- Keep a variety of spices on hand. Here is my list of top 20 spices for the frugal kitchen.
A word on homemade meals versus boxed or frozen foods: I believe boxed or frozen meals have a place in our homes. They are great when you need a quick easy meal or are trying to avoid going through a drive-thru line on occasion. That being said, they are often high in fat, sugar, sodium, and preservatives but low in nutrition. They also give the illusion of making dinner quicker and easier when making the equivalent homemade meal is just about as easy.
50 frugal food tips that will help you stay on budget with less stress.
9 Ways to Save Money on Protein
- Buy larger quantities of meat when it’s on sale or marked down, package with a FoodSaver, and freeze.
- Buy ground beef or roasts in bulk at a lower price and repackage to family size (club memberships can save you money here).
- Buy frozen fish rather than fresh, but stay away from breaded fish.
- Buy chicken on sale, precook in the slow cooker, shred and freeze for quick easy meals on busy nights.
- Use 1/2 the amount of ground meat a recipe calls for and mix with finely chopped mushrooms.
- Use 3/4 the amount of meat and add in pre-cooked mashed beans.
- Cut meat cubes smaller so they stretch further.
- Buy a whole roast or turkey breast. Roast it and slice thin for lunch meats or divide it into several meals before serving dinner.
- When making a whole chicken, save the bones to make stock or broth. (You can freeze the bones until you are ready to make it or freeze the stock/broth.)
5 Ways to Save Money on Pasta, Grains, Legumes
- Lentils are small but filling. Replace some of the protein in shepherd’s pie, casseroles, and soups with lentils.
- When eating pasta for dinner, skip the bread.
- Beef up brown rice with black beans and veggies.
- Serve smaller portions. Most people eat too large a serving of pasta, potatoes, and rice.
- Swap out pasta or rice for quinoa. It has a higher price point but a little goes a long way.
11 Frugal Food Tips for Fruits and Vegetables
- Use whole carrots instead of baby carrots.
- Wilted veggies are perfect for soup and won’t be wasted.
- Use frozen vegetables instead of canned. Canned veggies seem cheaper but you get more with frozen vegetables and fruit because you’re paying for the excess weight of the liquid in canned vegetables and fruits, which you usually discard.
- Compare prices of single-serve produce versus larger packaging.
- Plan your weekly meal plan around the produce that’s on sale.
- Buy only what your family will eat.
- Watch your produce! Make soup, stir fry, or freeze excess before it goes bad.
- Throw overripe and softening bananas in muffins or smoothies.
- Overripe or softening bananas can also be thrown in the freezer as-is with their peels on to be used in baking later on.
- Check pre-cut produce. Occasionally you can get packaged pre-cut products for a bit less, but break the price down first.
- Buy larger quantities of produce when it is in season at the peak of quality and lower prices then preserve it – water bath canning when safe or freezing with your FoodSaver*.
7 Ways to Save Money When Using Protein, Grains, and Vegetables in Soup
- When making soup use water or homemade stock rather than store-bought broth. You don’t need to skimp on flavor! Packing your soup full of vegetables and seasonings will create a flavorful broth.
- Cook chicken down in water and use the liquid as a soup base.
- Chop celery leaves and add to soup for added flavor.
- Small amounts of rice, beans, couscous, barley, quinoa, and pasta stretch a soup.
- Stock up on frozen vegetables when they are on sale. They are healthier AND stretch farther than canned!
- Buy canned tomatoes when they are on sale for easy homemade tomato soup or tomato sauce.
- Freeze or package leftovers for lunch the next day.
6 Ways to Save Money on Breakfast
- Buy plain yogurt in 32 oz. containers and sweeten it yourself – it’s cheaper, has less fillers, and has lower sugar content. Mixing in jam, maple syrup, agave syrup, or fruit is a great way to sweeten also.
- Make homemade oatmeal instead of buying the instant oat packages.
- Premake waffles and freeze them for reheating.
- Make homemade granola.
- Assemble your own breakfast sandwiches.
- Buy English muffins when they are on sale, take apart, then stack with wax or parchment paper between each piece and freeze for breakfast sandwiches.
6 Frugal Tips for Using Seasonings and Condiments
- Use dried herbs and spices instead of fresh ones in cooking. Use fresh herbs in products that won’t be cooked.
- Invest in a few high-quality spices. Everything will taste better and they last a long time.
- Cut down on using condiments. If you season things well you will need less!
- Use homemade salad dressing. It’s easy and better for you.
- Enjoy homemade guacamole.
- Make homemade cream soups- I like these easy gluten-free condensed soup recipes: cream of chicken soup, cream of mushroom soup, and cream of celery soup.
6 More Miscellaneous Frugal Food Tips
- Watch the store sales for great stock-up prices on non-perishable products but buy only what you need to get you to the next sales cycle.
- See if there is a food auction near you. I have been able to buy so much produce in bulk for a fraction of the price.
- Shop at discount stores. Often you can find name brands cheaper or generics that taste just like name brand products.
- Every store has a sale cycle (as mentioned above). Keep track of prices so you can learn your store’s sale pattern.
- Spending a little more money on healthier foods now will save long-term money on medical bills.
- Adding lunch meat to a grilled cheese will add protein but you only need a slice or 2.
20 Frugal Meal Recipes
Next you need some recipes that helps you utilize those frugal food tips yet still make meals your family can savor together without feeling robbed of the deliciousness of life. Here are some hearty and filling frugal recipes we enjoy.
- Easy Egg and Black Bean Quesadillas
- A 5 Meal Plan with 2 Rotisserie Chickens
- Chili Cornbread Casserole
- Pancake Pizzas w/ cream cheese spread & diced fruit
- Tuna Sandwiches & fresh Veggies
- Black Bean & Salsa Meatloaf w/ mashed potatoes & fresh veggie sticks
- Fish Tacos loaded w/ tomato & lettuce (I double up this spicy fish taco minis recipe)
- Homemade Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese with lunch meat
- Lemon Garlic Chicken w/ Rice and Broccoli
- Rice and Beef Casserole with veggies
- One Dish Sausage, Potatoes & Peas
- Chicken Soup w/ cornbread or biscuits
- Beef Stew w/ Whole Wheat Cheddar Biscuits
- Steak, Baked Potato & Veggies
- Pasta w/ Pink Sauce (red/white combined)& Steamed Veggies
- Chicken Sausage Ziti w/ Salad
- Slow Cooker Sage Chicken w/ Acorn Squash, Apples, and Onions
Stop and think: A few pounds of bananas cost less than a bag of chips, stretches further, and offers more nutrition.