Real foodies know that real food is not cheap! It doesn’t mean that you should just give up and forget about it either. There are tricks to the trade that help you save money and nourish your body at the same time!
At first glance some of these tips may not seem to add up to much but over time you will be surprised at how much you can actually save! These are just a few tips to get you started, I would love to know what you do!
1. Stick to your shopping list
When I buy things on a whim that aren’t on my list the bill can sky-rocket in a manner of minutes. When I lived in Mexico I left a little lee-way for thing not on my list that I forgot to write down since my next State side trip wouldn’t be for a few more months. Now that I am in California full-time I rarely allow for extra purchases.
If you do like to buy a few “surprise items” when you shop such as your favourite sausage on sale budget for those. Then you know you have a bit of wiggle room for a fun item.
2. Save your grease
Most real foodies are all about saving bacon grease. It gives amazing flavor to dishes like fried potatoes, eggs, or even popcorn (it. is. amazing!). Chicken fat is delicious for sauteing vegetables or in dumplings!
3. Make your own condiments
Most condiments you buy from the store are full of preservatives, even the organic ones. When you make your own condiments it can be a small amount on an as need basis or in a larger batch to keep on hand. I try to keep homemade mayo on hand all the time for sandwiches, dressings, and even cake! Don’t knock it till you try it! Plus you will either wow or weird out your guests when you say your condiments are homemade, because who doesn’t love to do that?
4. Label left-overs
I can’t emphasize how important it is to label and date left-overs. That way you know what needs to be used first. It also lets others know what is in each container. I personally store my left-overs in mason jars or Pyrex glass containers.
Keeping older items at the front reminds you to use them first. Even if you have a left-over night it is a good idea to try to use up what you can throughout the week.
5. Prep fruits and vegetables when you buy/pick them
Prepping vegetables when you bring them home from the store, farmers market, or the garden saves on waste. I am more likely to use carrots, celery, and things like that when they are already washed, peeled, and cut. Salads are easier to throw together when you wash and bag the greens ahead of time.
6. Preserve in season produce
I love to buy produce when it is in season to use for the rest of the year. Produce is less expensive when you buy it in season. A good idea is to set aside a portion of your grocery budget for the week/month to buy produce in bulk.
Here are two ways I like to preserve food:
Set aside a few canning days to preserve your produce. As much as I love frozen fruit and vegetables I do not have nearly enough room in my freezer for all of it. Canning allows me to save that space for bulk meat buys, frozen fruit for smoothies, and other important things like ice cream, because you know ice cream makes the world a better place…
Canning is so much more fun when it’s done with a friend. My friend Tammy and I used to have canning days. Processing 80 pounds of tomatoes is a task but when you have a friend it makes the day fly even if you do stay there till almost midnight and have to drive and hour home. Sadly we now live a country apart, so any takers for becoming my new canning buddy?
Real foodies get concerned over BPA in their food, thankfully you can use Tattler Lids which are BPA free over again! They are an initial investment but in the long run you save money from not having to purchase new seals every year. Right now I use half Tattler and half regular. A few regular seal jars are nice to have on hand when you plan on gifting some of your preserved food.
Items I like to can:
Does canning take up too much space? Dehydrating is the way to go! I love canning but my dehyrator gets work out when I bring produce in as well. It takes less “baby sitting” and you save on storage space big time!
Items I like to Dehydrate:
7. Buy whole chickens
I was definitely a chicken breast gal for many years. Buying a whole chicken can cut your price by at least half! I cut my chicken apart myself instead of paying high prices at the store. I use the breast for things like “Chick-fil-A” strips and use the rest of the chicken many other way!
I’ve talked about menu planning so many times over the years. I love it! Do I always stick to my plans? No. You’ve got to have some flexibility in life right?
9. Regrow your food
I have yet to successfully regrow my celery and lettuce but I had a great harvest from my sprouted garlic. The neighbors dogs decided that the celery and lettuce didn’t belong in my garden. It was fun to dig up a head of garlic that started from a single clove!
Herbs like mint are so easy to regrow. I normally just break a piece off and plant it in a pot with moist soil.
I’ve been told you can regrow ginger as well, so I really want to add that to my list.
10. Buy in bulk
I grew up on natural foods co-ops. It was just the thing we did so when I was on my own it was the natural thing to do. The co-op I belong to right now is Azure Standard. They now have drop-off points in most states! You will be surprised at the price difference! Azure is one of the reasons why eating real food is possible for me. Co-ops like Azure are a great place to grains, flours, produce, and even meat in bulk!
You can also look into buying 1/2 a cow, 1/2 a pig, or chickens from a local farmer. Generally that is the best way to get pastured meat at a more affordable price. So far I haven’t found farms close to me to buy meat from so I buy my meat at Costco or through Azure.
Note: If you are buying from a farm be sure to visit first and have all of the cost fully explained to you. A couple friends and I went in on 1/2 a cow two years ago. We were royally taken advantage of. About a year later I met a friend who had had a similar experience with that ranch. Currently I can not find their website, hopefully it means they are out of business and won’t take advantage of others.
If you want more tips on how to save money on real food and recipes to get you started check out the cookbook that I co-authored last year, the Frugal Secrets of Real Foodies.