If you’re looking for ways to save money, a great place to start is your food budget. Don’t worry—knowing how to save money on groceries doesn’t mean compromising on your health goals. On the contrary, it can help you achieve them.
We all know how easy it is to walk through the aisles of the grocery store, mindlessly filling our shopping carts with things that aren’t on our lists (if there even is a list to begin with). Every food product you see conjures up fantasies of mouthwatering feasts, making you seriously consider buying the supermarket in its entirety.
Before you know it, your cart is overflowing with everything except what you had come to buy in the first place. For many shoppers, this happens all the time. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, food is the largest household expense after housing and transportation.
And fortunately, unlike housing and transportation, food is generally easy to adapt to your budget.
Budget-Friendly Strategies to Maximize Your Food Budget
Do you have a food budget? If not, you may not have a good idea of how much you are spending on groceries and eating out. The occasional bite at your favorite restaurant and the infrequent, unplanned trips to the grocery store can take a toll on your expenses.
Food spending drains your funds little by little over long stretches of time. For this reason, budgeting and planning are essential to figuring out how to save money on groceries. If you haven’t been keeping track of your food spending, there is no better time than the present to create your very first budget and start saving.
Here is a list of strategies you can use to start making small changes that will help you save money on groceries:
Create a meal plan. This is an excellent strategy, and the 8fit team has all the tools you need to dominate meal planning. When you know what you are buying ahead of time, you eliminate wasteful spending.
Check your pantry, cabinets, refrigerator, and freezer. Identify what you need and don’t need so you’re not buying extra food on your next trip to the grocery store.
Eat before you shop. A surefire way to overspend is to grocery shop while hungry. Hunger leads to impulsive purchases.
Get grocery apps. Local grocery store apps allow you to comparison shop and companies like Ibotta and Shopkick offer rebates and cashback reward programs.
Buy frozen. Frozen fruits and vegetables are king. Frozen at peak ripeness, they’re also impossible to lose in the abyss of your vegetable drawer. They’re also great for smoothies and 15-minute meal options.
Go meatless one or two times per week. This might be a hard sell if you’re a die-hard carnivore, but going meatless at least once a week could reduce your risk of chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
Don’t pay extra for convenience. For example, buy a block of cheese instead of shredded or sliced.
Make extra servings. Freeze the leftovers for instant homemade frozen dinners.
Buy generic. While there are some generic items that we wouldn’t buy, either, food staples like butter, eggs, milk, and canned vegetables are generally all right. Just make sure to read the ingredients to confirm they are comparable to their name-brand counterparts.
Stick to your list. When you’re learning how to save money on groceries, sticking to your list is crucial. It will help you save time and money.
Buy only what you need. Don’t purchase more than you need. You’re not saving if you end up throwing away food that goes bad before you can use it.
How to Save Money on Groceries by Adopting a Versatile Food List
With a little creativity and planning, you will definitely find ways to save money on groceries. Here are 15 foods that help you stretch your food dollars and improve your health. Prices vary by location and grocery store. The goal of this list is to help you save over the long run and create flexibility and convenience when you are crunched for time.
This price-friendly fruit is great for baking, eating fresh, and adding to protein smoothies. It's also a great egg substitute in baked goods.
Meal idea: Vegan banana bean muffins
2. Beans and Lentils
Beans are high in fiber and protein. They’re great for quick meals like chili, soup, salad, and pasta. To maximize your savings, buy dried beans instead of canned.
Meal idea: 15-minute bean quesadilla with spicy salsa and yogurt (8fit Pro Recipe)
Cabbage is packed with nutrients and anti-inflammatory properties that support digestive health. Commonly used in salads, it can also be used in soups, stews, stir-fries, and wraps.
Meal idea: Simple homemade kimchi
4. Canned Chicken, Tuna, or Salmon
This low-cost protein option is filled with omega-3s and doesn’t require refrigeration. Keep a couple of cans at your desk for quick lunch and snack options.
Meal idea: Tuna salad with orange dressing
5. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds have many health benefits. A potential household staple, you can use them in smoothies, salads, baked foods, and yummy parfaits. They can also be used as a thickening agent in cooking.
Meal idea: Vanilla chia seed pudding
Chicken is a great way to add meat to your meals without breaking the wallet. There are tons of flavorful chicken recipes out there. If you sign up for 8fit Pro and download the app, you will have access to hundreds of recipes that feature chicken.
Meal idea: Chicken salad sandwich
Eggs are a great source of protein and have many, many meal possibilities. Not just a breakfast food, dozens can be boiled at once and kept in the refrigerator for a healthy snack option.
Meal idea: Baked eggs in avocado (8fit Pro Recipe)
8. Frozen Shrimp
Frozen shrimp is a great food to keep in your freezer. It’s a high-protein, low-calorie seafood that’s especially tasty in one-pot meals.
Meal idea: Shrimp salad with raw veggies (8fit Pro Recipe)
9. Garlic and Onions
Eating garlic and onions increases your body’s level of blood-detoxifying enzymes. Take advantage of the health benefits of these common and very tasty ingredients.
Meal idea: Homemade pesto recipe
10. Mixed Greens or Fresh Spinach
These are great for improving the nutrient content of your meals. You can add them to pasta, stir-fries, smoothies, and side salads.
Meal idea: Mini-sweet potato & spinach frittata (8fit Pro Recipe)
This fiber-rich food can be used in almost anything for any meal of the day. Consuming oats may also improve your heart health.
Meal idea: Salted date and espresso overnight oats
Buying bags of potatoes is more cost-effective than buying individual loose potatoes. This budget-friendly food is packed with nutrients and can be cooked in countless ways. Think one-pan casserole dishes, pancakes, stews, soups, hash browns — you get the idea.
Meal idea: Herbed mashed potatoes
This superfood is a complete protein and contains vitamins, minerals, and fiber. You can use quinoa to make veggie burgers, pizza crusts, and pour-over salads. They can also be used in baking.
Meal idea: Thai peanut quinoa salad
Rice is filling and energizing. You can make large batches of rice to use in baked dishes, burritos, or homemade fried rice.
Meal idea: Curried tofu rice and cabbage
15. Whole grain or multigrain pasta
Spice up any meal with a scrumptious bowl of pasta. Pasta is a quick meal option, especially on late nights. It’s the perfect comfort food after a long, grueling day.
Meal idea: Pasta primavera (8fit Pro Recipe)
Although most people want to save money on groceries, many assume that it will be too frustrating and time-consuming to learn how. Hopefully, these strategies and food options will help get you started.
Don’t try to do them all at once. Instead, commit yourself to incorporating one or two strategies per month into your lifestyle. The food list will be way more fun to integrate into your life that way. Choose between three and five of the foods and experiment.