Before I jump into this topic, I wanted to share I have TWO bits of exciting news next week -- stay tuned and get on the newsletter if you're not already so you hear it there first!
Over the last few months I've watched my grocery bill getting bigger and bigger, even though I more or less buy the same things.
For example, canned beans went from $1 to $1.25.
Can you relate?
I know cooking beans myself is more affordable and eco. I have the tools (e.g. pressure cooker) to do it, but... I don't want to?
I could give an excuse about limited time, energy, bandwidth, xyz but the truth is I PREFER THE CONVENIENCE.
Plus without some convenience items, I am less likely to cook meals at home. I need cooking to have less hurdles.
If I have to make every ingredient from scratch first, cooking becomes less likely.
So how am I saving money then?
#1 I've cut down on my energy bill.
I've been using my electric pressure cooker like a stove (saute setting) and my toaster oven. Not only does this keep my house cooler amid soaring temperatures outside (= less AC), it uses dramatically less gas and electricity.
Other "strategies" I've learned over the years: Don't put anything in the fridge or freezer that hasn't cooled completely to room temperature (so your fridge works less). Scrape dishes without rinsing or pre-washing.
It doesn't sound like much, but these little things have given us a nice savings in one place to offset the rising cost of food.
#2 Shop for cheaper alternatives
I've been buying the same brand of unsweetened soy milk for years, but when the price went from $3.99 to $5.49, I switched to another brand (generic).
I also stopped buying an oil-free, low fat vegan queso I bought on occassion for ease when I saw the price went from $4.99 (which already felt indulgent) to a whopping $7.99.
This is the lone case where I tell myself to not be so lazy. My Quick Queso doesn't take that long and it's much, much cheaper. I've also recently started mixing the dry ingredients and storing them so all I have to do is add the milk, etc and heat. Cooking beans from scratch is still a bridge too far for now ;)
#3 I stopped buying online.
Most online grocers (including Amazon) aren't a better deal (for me) anymore. The price is the same (or sometimes MORE!) than my grocery store; OR I have to pay a membership fee (which negates the cheaper unit price); OR I have to "buy extra" and spend a high dollar to qualify for "free" shipping, leading me to spend more money on things I don't necessarily need right now.
#4 I only buy what I need for the next 4-5 days.
I've come to appreciate a giant bag of fresh produce isn't saving me any money if it goes bad before I can go through it. Ditto for unused pantry items take up space and represent money I've spent but am not getting any benefit from.
My fridge and pantry are legitimately BARE by Friday.
#5 I meal plan and NEVER shop without a grocery list.
Not only does having a meal plan save me from the dreaded "what do I fix for dinner" cycle, it also prevents me from impulse buying or buying food that will go to waste. I also use low-cost recipes, which helps.
Get the FREE 7-day meal plan (with recipes and shopping list) that I use.
#6 I prioritize ingredients
This means using up "older" perishable foods first (before it goes to waste) before the "new" stuff. This also helps relieve that "what's for dinner" mental drain because I know I'm making something with my wilted cabbage!
If I don't already have a recipe for the ingredient, I search in the Meal Mentor app for ideas. For example, a neighbor gifted me a bunch of kale from her garden, so I searched "kale" and am now making the Kissing Kale Pasta tonight!
#7 I used up nearly everything in my pantry first
When prices started to jump, I spent 2-3 weeks exhausting everything I already had in the pantry (and freezer). I did still need to buy a few fresh or frozen items here and there, but it felt good to finally "get that money back." I
If you have a meal mentor membership, there is a special "Pantry Meal Plan" in the app--which is what I used to get started.
Use up ingredients you already have and skip a week of grocery buying! These 10 free blog recipes are also pantry-friendly.
#8 LASTLY, If you're not vegan or vegetarian, incorporating more "meatless meals" will help shred grocery costs significantly. There are so many reasons I'm glad I'm vegan/plant-based, but not having to pay the prices for meat and dairy are a big bonus right now!