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Coupons are a fantastic way to save, but there are other ways to cut costs when you’re buying groceries for the house. Now some of my tried-and-true food savings hacks aren’t for everyone, but there are at least a few in here you’ll be willing to try (if not all).
Because here’s the thing: Groceries are expensive right now. As in the price of almost everything has gone up. That’s why KCL has been obsessively tracking cost comparisons at different stores to help you find cheap eggs, butter, and more. It’s a jungle out there trying to stay on budget, and sometimes the more outside the box you think, the more you’ll save.
I’ve rounded up some of my top frugal tips for saving you money on your next shopping trip. But to get money-saving hacks sent to your phone, download the Krazy Coupon Lady app.
14 Food Savings Hacks You Should Really Consider
1. Break off broccoli stems to reduce weight.
I don’t want to start a revolution, but if the sign reads “broccoli crowns,” I think it’s fair to pay for the crowns, and the crowns only—not the stems.
2. Buy bread at the dollar store.
We go through so much bread in our household so I am always looking for food savings hacks on my carbs. I can go to Dollar Tree and get a loaf of Orowheat bread for about $1.25 or less with coupons. The same bread is about $3.49 at Target. Of course, if you’re less picky about the style of bread, Target does have their Market Pantry 100% Whole Wheat Bread for $1.19.
3. Make your own salad dressings or buy mixes.
I always buy ranch packets and make it myself instead of buying a regular bottle. It makes the same amount, but at Target the packets are $1.30 cheaper. If you use a bottle a month that’s almost $16 a year you’re saving on just ranch dressing.
4. Ask for ugly produce for the “chickens.”
You can ask the produce guy if you can take home the ugly fruits and veggies the store plans on throwing away—for free.
I tell him they’re for my chickens. If I tell him the food is for me, he probably wouldn’t let me have it! Yeah, this might be gutsy in terms of food savings hacks, but it works for me.
5. Buy clearance meat.
Meat is expensive. Period. Meat that’s approaching the “best by” date is often reduced so it sells quickly. That’s when I come in and snatch it. As long as it’s not rotten, gray, or funky smelling, I’ll cook it or freeze it the same day, and it’s perfectly fine!
6. Rarely pay attention to the “best by” dates on food.
Take a peek inside my pantry and you’ll find packages of Stove Top with a “best by” date of two years ago. Cereal? Probably six months past the date stamped on the box.
Related: How Do Food Expiration Dates Work, Anyway?
7. Roast crickets like almonds.
If you’re squeamish, look away because maybe on your list of food savings hacks, this won’t be one of ’em. But, seriously, don’t knock it til you try it. Just buy feeder crickets, give them a cleanse by feeding them oats for a week, freeze the pre-wing adults, pull off their legs, and roast them for a quick, cheap snack. We found 1,000 live feeder crickets for only $14.90 online.
8. Weigh bagged produce for 10% savings.
Ever wonder if every bag of apples weighs exactly 5 lbs.? Well actually, it doesn’t! The truth is, producers must fill the bag to at least 5 lbs., so it pays to weigh your bag to make sure you’re getting the most for your money.
9. Buy tougher meats and ask your butcher to run them through the tenderizer.
Make friends with your butcher, because they can save you a bunch of money.
The tender meat is usually more expensive. But, we have a hack for that. You can typically ask your butcher to run tougher meat (like chuck roast, shoulder roast, and rump roast) through the tenderizer and still get it at the lower price.
10. Cut down the amount of meat you eat.
If you don’t want to go full-on vegetarian, even cutting out meat one to two days a week can save you a bunch.
For example, replace one pound of sirloin for $9.47 with two packages of tofu for $4.92 once a week, and save almost $237 a year.
Related: Discount Grocery Stores in Every State
11. Save all those condiment packets you get at restaurants.
Do you know how many times they throw those in the bag just for you to toss them once you get home? Resist the urge to purge: save them. I save all the ketchup, mustard, and hot sauce packets I can and rarely have to buy that stuff in the store.
12. Never buy produce pre-cut. Ever.
It’s the same thing at a higher price. It may take a bit of extra effort to cut up the watermelon yourself, but your wallet will thank you.
13. Borrow seeds from a library and plant your own herbs.
Check your local library to see if they have a take-and-give seed program. You can get flower, herb and even vegetable seeds—all they ask is that you bring back seeds from your plants for the next gardeners.
I haven’t bought basil, mint or rosemary from the store ever since.
14. Save your bread crusts and turn them into croutons.
Never throw those bread crusts away. Instead, save them up and store them in a sealed bag. Make a batch of croutons when you have enough. It’ so much cheaper than buying premade ones. You can find a recipe here.