Saving Money on Food: The Ultimate Guide

Here is our ultimate guide to saving money on food in 2022. If you’re looking to lower your grocery budget in 2022, then check out the following tips.

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We all know that food prices are through the rough.

They’ve been rough.

They might even get worse.

Lately I have been just staring at the ceiling while the cashier rings me up at the grocery store. I can’t bring myself to look until the end. It’s been painful to see how much everything has gone up!

Seeing the rising prices and reading the news has lead me to buckle down on my food budget and do a full audit on what we’re consuming as a family of three.

Food prices in 2022

Food prices skyrocketed in 2022. See this fact from Forbes,

“Food prices have risen 11.4% from August 2021 to August 2022, according to the most recent Consumer Price Index report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nearly every food item is now more expensive. Bread, for example, was 16.2% more expensive in August than a year ago; the price of eggs has increased 39.8%.”

I’ve made some changes to how we shop, like buying less pre-made food and even switching the coffee that we drink, but because pretty much everything is more expensive, it hasn’t made much of a dent.

It’s wild to see how far $100 at the grocery store could take me in 2020 versus now. I find myself looking at my receipt on the car ride home and asking myself “that’s it? that’s all that I bought??”. The number of items purchased and the bold number at the bottom of the receipt still don’t compute in my frazzled brain.

Will food prices go down in 2023?

The truth is: probably not. Here is a summary finding from USDA “In 2023, all food prices are predicted to increase between 3.0 and 4.0 percent, food-at-home prices are predicted to increase between 2.5 and 3.5 percent, and food-away-from-home prices are predicted to increase between 4.0 and 5.0 percent.

That’s insane, right? But, what’s the alternative.

That’s the tricky part. We all need to eat.

One thing I have been working on is building up my pantry and freezer. I cannot tell you how much pasta is in my house right now, it’s insane. I have little hope that prices will stabilize, so I’m buying my pasta at Trader Joe’s for $.99 as long as I can!

How to save money on food in 2022

Shop sales

I had to get this one out of the way. It’s the most obvious, right? Grab your weekly circular or check online for what’s on sale. Buy in season, and buy in bulk where it makes sense.

Shopping sales and buying in bulk only work if you actually are going to eat the food you buy and eat it within the appropriate time frame. Don’t grab something just because it’s a good deal.

Use a deep freezer to save money on groceries

Deep freezers have the ability to store food at colder temperatures, thus maintaining freshness and flavor for longer periods. Every time you open your kitchen freezer, you’re letting a little warm air in. Also, the seal on an upright freezer is not as strong as the one on a deep freezer.

We did a lot of research on deep freezers, and will be going with the Kismile Chest Freezer (7 cu ft) this fall. It has an adjustable thermostat and a cooling fan, which are crucial to protecting all that lovely food you’ll be storing! I love to batch cook chili and pies, so I’m looking forward to stocking up.

Shopping ahead and freezing foods that are bought on sale is a very efficient way to save money on grocery shopping in 2022.

You can also freeze breastmilk! Here’s my guide to building a portable breastfeeding bin.

Save your coffee to save money

We have two of these glass carafes in our fridge. I prefer hot coffee, while my husband prefers to drink it iced. We drink an unhealthy amount of coffee in our house, so a fresh pot is always brewing. After the leftovers have cooled, ever last drop goes into one of the glass carafes and straight into the fridge!

You can also use the coffee grounds as fertilizer.

We use the leftover plastic cans as storage, and leftover tin cans to cool grease after cooking meat before tossing it in the garbage.

Save your bacon grease

Speaking of grease, save it! Make sure to strain and filter your bacon grease before cooling it in the freezer. It will stay good indefinitely.

We use it for cooking up chicken breasts or roasting veggies.

20 Ways to Use Bacon Grease from The Pioneer Woman

Save your bread

Did you know that you can store your leftover bread bits in the freezer and make breadcrumbs? I learned this from Alison Roman and I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner! If you have leftover bread that you know you aren’t going to use, or scraps from cooking, tuck them in the freezer to preserve.

Then, toast on baking sheet and throw them into the food processor with a touch of olive oil. You’ll get crunchy, craggy breadcrumbs from scratch.

Alison Roman’s cookbook has some wonderful recipes that you can make at home for a frugal date night or celebration.

Have a prep day

Take a day to prep all that lovely food you have. How many times have you bought fresh fruit and it’s just rotted in the back of your fridge? Take a day every week to wash and pre-cook as much as possible. I love to batch cook chili for my lunch during the week.

I will also make my own pickled red onions, baked goods, and bread if I’m feeling up to it. It’s part of what makes me feel ready for the week.

Batch cooking your favorite healthy meals might not only help you save money at the store, but it could help you loose weight! I always feel more inclined to choose the “easiest” option after an exhausting day, and when I have a nutritious meal ready to go, that choice becomes very convenient!

Purchase whole foods

No, not Whole Foods. In this economy? Please (insert eye-roll emoji).

Rather, buy whole foods. Pre-packaged and pre-cooked meals are priced significantly higher. Save the money and chop, clean, and prep at home.

Meal plan by month to shop smart at the store

Sounds crazy, right? How many of us don’t plan as far as the next meal we’re about to eat. Sitting down with a monthly or seasonal calendar is actually a lot easier than it sounds. It seems like a lot of meals to plan, but it’s really to help consolidate your grocery list so you can get the best deals.

For example, there are 30 days in November so that sounds like 30 dinners. I subtract 4 because we do takeout every Friday, -2 for Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Eve, -1 for my daughter’s birthday.

So that’s only 23 meals. I know I will do a pasta dinner once a week. So, down to 20 meals. I know I will do a chicken pot pie every Sunday night. Down to 16 meals. And so on, and so on.

If you have a few meals in your weekly rotation it’s actually quite simple to plan meals for the whole month and do one big shop in the beginning of the month, and then supplement as you go along with fresh goods.

Keep a master calendar on your fridge so that you can see how much food you will need ahead of time. We use this one. Another benefit of a big calendar is it keeps everyone in the household on the same page.

Do your research

Costco and other bulk stores (BJ’s, Sam’s Club) aren’t always cheaper! Be sure to check price per oz, lb, etc. Online ordering is an easy way to compare prices. I also never purchase food (or any consumables like dog toys, diapers, etc) from Amazon – there are too many shady sellers!

Mom-and-Pop grocery stores may seem out of budget, but be sure to check their circular. Most have pretty good sales on meat and dairy!

Start a garden

I’ll be honest- I’ve been totally intimidated about starting a garden – it sounds like so much work. But, my in-laws both work full time and they are able to do it, so I swear this spring I’m going to give it a try! They always have a surplus of zucchini and cucumber that they generously share with us. It ends up being so much that even we can’t go through it fast enough!

What I end up doing is chopping up the leftover zucchini, freezing it on a baking sheet, and saving it for soups and stews at a later date.

The first thing to think about when starting your own garden is finding out what zone you’re in. After that, you can look into what you can realistically grow

Don’t forget to consider potential pests, whether it’s ladybugs, bunnies, or something else! I know we are starting to have a pretty significant deer problem on Long Island!

You don’t need a huge farm to start a garden. Check out these small-space gardens!

Join a community garden

A community garden is a local area where community members can garden and plant produce together.

According to AllRecipes.com, “Each community garden operates differently and uniquely. Some provide garden plots to an individual or group. There are often waiting lists to get in until space becomes available. Others may be structured where each person volunteers to tend and maintain the garden. Some community gardens may have a membership program with fees to help offset costs, such as water.”

Not only do these gardens strengthen communities, but they provide access to fresher food than you’d find in the store.

A community garden is a simple alternative to committing to a backyard garden.

Consume budget-friendly content

I’m a big believer in “you are what you eat”, especially in terms of social media and entertainment. Following some accounts that post about frugal living or eating on a budget can be a helpful source for new ideas.

I’ve learned a lot from Acre Homestead and Jordan Page!

Stay away from Instacart, DoorDash, and other “convenient” delivery apps

I can’t imagine how much money we’ve saved by not using these apps. They can be helpful as a one-off luxury, but the tips and fees add up quick. This article from Ridester shows how Instacart hikes up prices.

Don’t have time to go into the store? Try Target pick up or other curbside services.

Buy generic or store-brand goods

TheDollarStretcher.com has some interesting ways to figure out who actually makes a generic brand item.

When I was a preschool teacher I still had a few children who were in diapers. They each had their own wipes and diapers from home, and I got familiar with which ones ahem, worked, and which ones didn’t. Let’s just say we only use name-brand wipes like Pampers or Huggies, and we rarely use store-brand diapers. Store brand don’t work as efficiently, and end up costing more money.

This one needs to be tested out for different items. Shelfcooking.com lists a few exceptions that I think are noteworthy!

This isn’t reserved for food items – generic household goods like appliances, toiletries, and furniture can save you thousands.

Clip coupons

There, I said it. I don’t know how I made it this far without saying it! Coupons are the ultimate tool to saving money on food in 2022.

You can check your stores circular or go online to see coupons. Some stores will even offer them after they expire (you might have better luck with small, local stores).

Some people set up a separate email just for coupons and promotions. This keeps them all in one place and you can just log onto that account once a week while meal planning, instead of being constantly bombarded.


What would you add to this list?

Do you follow any of these tips already?
Let me know below!
O.

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5 Comments

  1. Great post! Just to add: Victory gardens from WWI and WWII are in vogue again — even a small vegetable patch in the yard can augment people’s food supplies.

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