Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
29 May

99 Ways to Save Money on Food

From time to time I hear from Primal Blueprinters that the cost of the PB diet can be challenging. What with the cost of grass-fed/finished beef, wild caught fish and organic produce things can add up pretty quickly, they say. Apart from the fact that you’ll likely end up saving money in the long run (it’s an invest in your healthy – think no monthly medication bills and doctor visits) there are numerous ways to pinch pennies, cut corners and otherwise follow the PB diet on the cheap without compromises.

I’ve published numerous articles (How to Eat Healthy and Save Money, The Depression Diet, Healthy Eating on a Budget and many others) on the topic of eating 100% Primal without breaking the bank. It turns out that it isn’t nearly as difficult as it might seem at face value. In fact with a little common sense and forethought it is pretty easy.

Click through to view my list of 99 ways to save money on food.

I’ve simply listed the various tactics one could take to save money on food assuming that the reasons are self apparent. If any clarification is needed hit me up with a comment in the boards!

How to Shop

1. Shop at Farmers’ markets

2. BuyThrift Cuts

3. Buy off-label/store brands

4. Negotiate at the Farmers’ market

5. Shop at a warehouse club for select food items

6. Buy local

7. When on sale, stock up

8. Buy in bulk

9. Buy frozen veggies

10. Buy canned veggies

11. Use coupons

12. Shop the perimeter. Don’t buy processed/branded food items.

13. Double coupons

14. Check with grocery store to see if they accept expired coupons

15. Don’t buy things just because they are cheap. If you don’t end up using it no matter how cheap it was it’s lost money.

16. Put “blinders” on while in the checkout aisle. Avoid making last minute impulse buys.

17. Check the unit price on grocery store price tags

18. Bring your own bags. Some grocery stores will give you cash back for using your own.

19. Check your receipt. Even computers make mistakes.

20. Comparison shop – Buy from the cheapest grocery store (Whole Foods is expensive)

21. Use a grocery store membership card

22. Don’t shop hungry

23. Make a shopping list and stick to it

24. Only buy veggies the day you are going to use them to avoid spoilage/waste

25. Buy from ethnic food stores

26. Have a budget and stick with it

27. Shop at roadside markets

28. Shop alone

29. Buy in-season

30. Check expiration dates before buying

31. Minimize travel time to grocery store. Fewer trips and staying local means less gas spent.

32. Only buy organics when it makes sense

33. Do all your grocery shopping on one day of the week, and don’t spend money on food the rest of the week, no matter what.

34. Give yourself a per-day rate. $12/day? $8/day? $5/day? Once you’ve spent that much on food, you can’t spend anymore until the next day.

35. Pay with cash. People tend to spend less when they pay with cash.

36. Don’t be tricked by the “5 for $5.” Most grocery stores give the discounted price even if you buy a single item unless the tag specifies otherwise.

37. Ask for a rain check if the store is out of the sale item

38. Check for purchase limits

39. Check for sale offer requirements (need to buy 2 to get deal)

40. Get cash back rewards from your credit card company

Prepare Your Own Food

41. Prepare your own food. Clean and chop your own greens instead of buying pre-packaged. Grate your own cheese. Dice your own veggies. Make your own ice. Food manufacturers charge a premium for convenience.

42. Learn to cook

43. Make your own baby food

44. Reuse coffee grounds

45. Make your own snacks (jerky, energy bars, dried fruit, nut snacks)

46. Keep meals simple

47. Pack your lunch for work

48. Make your own coffee

49. Find cheap recipes and use them often

50. Use cheap ingredients to spice up a meal

Dining Out

51. Don’t dine out (see #42)

52. If you must dine out and you have children use this iPhone app: KidsEatFree

53. If you eat out, share a dish. Many restaurants serve enough food for two people.

54. Don’t buy appetizers, desserts, or drinks at a restaurant

55. Avoid Starbucks at all costs

56. For fine dining, go during lunch. Many four star restaurants have separate lunch and a dinner menus. The dishes are all the same, it’s just a change in price.

57. Don’t pay for other peoples’ food. If the server won’t split the check, don’t be the person to be paid back later. We all know how well that works out.

58. 1 Beer at an L.A. Bar = 24 beers from the Liquormart = 48 generic cans of vegetables. Just stand around with a glass of water in your hand and pretend to be drunk.

Odds and Ends

59. Build your own garden and grow your own food

60. Join a CSA

61. Know how long foods last refrigerated/frozen

62. Don’t be wasteful. Eat your leftovers.

63. Hunt for dinner

64. Eat the entire animal

65. And that includes inexpensive organ meats

66. Ditch specialty beverages and stick with water

67. Be adventurous. Try new things (the things that are cheaper).

68. Cowpool

69. Ditch alcohol

70. Pick public fruit

71. Eat less. Eat slower and practice portion control.

72. Experiment with Intermittent Fasting

73. Drink tap water instead of bottled water

74. Use the power of Google to find recipes for old pantry and freezer food items

75. Give up coffee

76. Eat calorie dense foods

77. Be prepared. Primalize your pantry and fridge, and keep it well stocked so you don’t find yourself tempted to order delivery.

78. Start your own farm

79. Recycle cans and bottles

80. Visit relatives. Most relatives offer food.

81. Learn to fish. This has worked for thousands of years.

82. Breastfeed your children

83. If it is bite sized and you have to unwrap it, it’s probably not worth buying.

84. 90% of all meals can be prepared with a knife, a pan, and a flame. Don’t buy the de-crusting 5 minute magic grill cheeser. Don’t buy the juicer. And don’t, DON’T buy the slap chop.

85. Let the kids help with dinner. Don’t let them help with the grocery shopping.

86. The value meal has no value. Avoid this junk food at all costs.

87. Antioxidant juice? No. Try an antioxidant multivitamin supplement: orders of magnitude stronger, half as expensive, and 0 grams of sugar.

88. Substitute meat for eggs in some meals

89. Raid your great grandma’s recipe book. She cooked during the Great Depression. She knows the ropes.

Just for Fun

(because coming up with 99 ways to save money on food is much more difficult than saving money on food)

90. Stock up on free condiments from fast food joints, truck stops, cafeterias, and yes, churches.

91. Go to funerals. There’s always food at funerals.

92. Sign up to be on email lists for churches, support groups, political causes, and enthusiast clubs. Social groups often arrange get-togethers with free food to entice people to show up.

93. Abuse buffets

94. Want cheap eggs? Buy a chicken. You’ll be surprised at how many they can pop out.

95. Dumpster dive. Many grocery stores have a policy of throwing out certain foods after a certain number of days. Befriend your grocer, and ask him/her to set aside the toss-outs for you.

96. Try Responsibly Slim (shameless plug ;)). Where else can you get a well-rounded, delicious, quick and easy meal replacement for a buck and change?

97. Make like Ghandi and fast for a cause

98. Eat insects for breakfast

99. Stray cats. (What? Meat is meat. Right?)

Can you come up with number 100? Share you thoughts on ways to save money on food in the comment board.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Cooking your own food definitely helps the bottom line, and a lot healthier too.

    Bruno wrote on June 15th, 2009
  2. 100 – Rotate having dinner at friends houses. My neighbour and I do dinner at each other’s places once or twice a week since we are both small families. All we really need to do is throw on an extra side dish or maybe one more piece of meat. Instead of having leftovers, a price of a meal has been saved for one family and what the other has spent for the bit of extra is well saved when it’s the other neighbour’s turn.

    Renzy wrote on June 17th, 2009
  3. Buy small amounts of bulk spices instead of a big ‘ol jar. I find I spend 10-20 cents for enough spice to do a recipe once or twice. Before, I’d buy a big jar, maybe never use it again (marjoram??), or when I did go to use it 3 months later, it had lost it’s flavor.

    Catalina wrote on July 2nd, 2009
  4. #100. ramen is your friend

    Travis wrote on July 4th, 2009
  5. Get a job at a restaurant. Usually they give you free meal when you work, and a generous discount the rest of the time. I get free dinner four nights a week!

    Ness wrote on September 18th, 2009
  6. Buy spices and condiments in bulk and make your own bread. You can make gourmet breads for really cheap!

    Hill wrote on September 21st, 2009
  7. #100. if you cook something, cook a LOT of it, and freeze half of it in individually-sized portions (chinese take-out containers work very well for this). eat within the next month or two.

    it’s just me and my husband here in our home, so i make a HUGE tray of lasagna and freeze about half. we have leftovers for the week and for the next two months. also works well with spaghetti bakes, soups, etc.

    kathleen wrote on October 3rd, 2009
  8. Comment on #55:

    Actually for avoiding Starbucks at all costs, if you ask for a large water at the counter you get it for free. I have my friends “buy” me large waters all the time.

    Their water is also filtered since they use it for their coffee.

    Just sayin.

    Jacqui wrote on December 29th, 2009
  9. homemade cleaning product recipes….
    For a general cleaning spray I mix even amounts of water and white vinegar, adding a few drops of lavendar oil to neutralize the vinegar smell.

    If there are any really stubborn spots (ie: dried food on the stove) I sprinkle baking soda on the surface, then spray it with the cleaning spray, wait a few minutes & it wipes right off.

    For toilet bowels sprinkle a generous amount of borax around the bowl and spray the cleaning spray on top of that. let sit for 15min and flush (scrub if necessary).

    Namasteak wrote on January 19th, 2010
  10. ty

    Mike Brown wrote on October 17th, 2010
  11. My family is keeping a Grocery Diary this month and recording what we buy, what we what we spend and what we eat for an entire month. I’m recording all of the information (including recipes) on my website in the hopes that I can help other people save money on their grocery bill.

    http://www.homejobsformom.com/grocerydiary

    Sarah wrote on November 2nd, 2010
  12. Buy green veggie saver bags, they double the life of veggies and fruits.

    KCarlson wrote on January 9th, 2011
  13. http://www.wkbw.com/news/local/eating-cat-100351874.html

    and from the Buffalo News: “The officers, however, heard a cat in the trunk and found the 4-year-old cat in a cage — “marinating” in a concoction of crushed red peppers, chili pepper, salt and oil, police said.”

    Looks like you have a fan in Buffalo Mark!

    Jay wrote on January 20th, 2011
  14. i love finding different ways to save time and energy.i have bought groceries once a month for 45 yrs. so a person has to be careful and i have delicious foods cheaply. my way of storing romaine lettuce works well . every few days i will turn the plastic bag inside out and i have it to last sometimes the whole month when it’s down to the last leaves.

    linda page wrote on April 25th, 2011
  15. NEVER host a dinner party!!

    Danielle wrote on April 25th, 2011
  16. Squamous cell skin cancer is the most second kind of carcinoma in the world.

    Antonia Zagacki wrote on August 23rd, 2011
  17. Great info! Plenty of straightforward logical answers for saving money!

    Oneshotvariety wrote on October 7th, 2011
  18. Great info! Plenty of straightforward logical answers to saving some money!

    Oneshotvariety wrote on October 7th, 2011
  19. Being thrifty is being healthy. There are times that I do fasting to strengthen my soul and at the same time strengthen my finance habits.

    Vic @ Business Tips Blog wrote on October 14th, 2011
  20. On item #6, buying local is often good for the environment and your health as well. It helps reduce emissions from delivery trucks and has local pollens, materials and similar reducing allergens. Good ideas.

    Saving Money wrote on December 21st, 2011
  21. Ha ! Here’s one for you. “GO PRIMAL!”
    Our family food bill has actually gone down after I imposed primal law (LOL) It was amazing how much $$ we were spending on cereals and bread products – and we were not a processed ready-to- eat-food family in teh first place – just too much grain and sugar. Real food wins.

    Doug wrote on December 30th, 2011
  22. I laugh so much with the last options of saving money. I laughed more becouse I already have practiced some of them ; church, religion celebrations, bufe. :) Thank you Mark !

    Jano wrote on January 29th, 2012
  23. I don’t know if anyone has already said this but a good way to get cheap organic beef is to buy a whole or half cow right from the farmer or you can even go to an auction they have auctions once a month where I live. The cow may not be usda certified organic but our cows are only fed hay they never get hormones. It ends up costing the same as the cheap beef in the store and some times the butcher is just down the road from the auction :)I live in a great place with lots of resources for almost free and cheap organic food.

    Dawn wrote on February 9th, 2012
  24. As an organic farmer, I do not recommend going to farmers market and talking a farmer down on price. We work hard for our product and to haggle us on price is disrespectful. Go volunteer on a farm and you will usually be given vegetables!

    Rebecca Ulizio wrote on March 7th, 2012
  25. Try windowfarming if you dont have a garden it is perfect!
    You can make it yourself and save money, harvest fresh strawberries, chilis etc in your kitchen. Also, here in denmark it is very popular to grow potatoes and other root-veggies in pots where you can open the pot at the bottom (like a zipper)
    http://www.windowfarms.org/buildyourown
    Heres how you can build a vindowfarm :)

    Gry wrote on April 10th, 2012
  26. Jonathan Swift: “A Modest Proposal”.

    David wrote on April 19th, 2012
  27. Buying local when you live in a rural area doesn’t help reduce prices :( Govt regulations protect the corps not allowing small grocers to provide cheap product. Racketeering 101

    Dan wrote on June 19th, 2012
  28. In the winter up North grow your own mushrooms. Very easy to do. You don’t need a kit. All you need is instructions from You Tube, one mushroom, a piece of paper, and those coffee grounds everyone is recycling. Also alot of salad greens and herbs can be grown on a window sill. Go to a 99 cent store at the end of the growing season and pick up seeds CHEAP!!

    Cathy wrote on February 11th, 2013
  29. My biggest tip for saving money while eating primal/paleo: ditch the dessert. Have seconds if you’re still hungry. Those grain-free treats are made of nuts, nuts, and more NUTS, and I don’t know if there’s any type of food more expensive than nuts, except for “superfoods”, but those don’t count.

    Claire wrote on July 12th, 2013
  30. How about the easiest, make your own wine/ beer, in one batch i save 250 dollars.

    jess wrote on July 30th, 2013
  31. Hi – I buy butter on special and freeze it. Works just as well and can save heaps at the time.

    Marg in New Zealand wrote on September 24th, 2013

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