Cutting Food Costs

Joined Jan 26, 2001
Well, I'm young. And we just moved again, so you know how that can cost more money than you plan (and it surprises me each time!).

I'm trying to get a handle on buying groceries for myself and my husband. Of course, when I worked in a restaurant, I could play with ingredients and it was great. I didn't have to worry about the cost or the fact that if I bought all that stuff for me that it would go bad too rapidly.

So I have a couple of general questions for those of you without large families.

1) How do you cut food costs for yourself? (Keep in mind that a freezer only has so much room)

2) Are there items that honestly cost less to buy pre-made or in mixes, or is it cheaper to buy all of the ingredients?

3) Do you plan menus ahead of time? Does that help?

Any other suggestions or ideas that have worked for you would be great. I really like to cook creatively, but sometimes it just doesn't seem that my budget can really handle it.

Joined Mar 13, 2001

This is a family of two (plus a cat) and we have a big freezer. I make enough meals from scratch and freeze them to last a good two weeks. These meals are mainly for hubby's lunches during the week (he works at home).

I am not fond of pre-mixes. I make practically everything from scratch and I honestly don't think we save a dime by doing so; I feel it's more healthy however.

I go to the market once a week (sometimes twice) and I like to plan menus ahead. Based on the different recipes I'm planning to use, I check the pantry and refrigerator, make a list and stick to it.

Joined May 6, 2001
This is a wonderful topic. I think each person has to come up with a method that works for them, keeping in mind your schedule, budget, and cooking ability. I have a friend who only goes food shopping once every two weeks, but she doesn't cook from scratch. I know of other people who run to the grocery store on an almost daily basis.
This is what works for me:
I don't favor one singles store. I gather the ads for the week and choose a store based on the sale items that I can use.

I buy my produse at the farmer's market. I find that it's less expensive, tastes better and I'm buying locally which is fabulous.

I make a set menu for the week and a corresponing list of needed items and only buy what's on the list.

I do all of my grocery shopping for the week in one day. In the past I've run out every other day or so for foodstuffs and always seemed to pick up superfluous items.

I clip coupons.

My husband takes his lunch to work. (When he remembers ;) ) It's actually cheaper than fast food.

I also keep my pantry organized (I'm incredibly anal like that :p ) This way I know what items I have and can tell at a glance what I need to pick up, making fewer trips to the store possible.

I hope I've helped.
Joined Jan 5, 2001
Eating healthy is cheaper, believe it or not. Our diet is dictated not so much by health or financial concerns but by time constraints. More often than not, I make a big vat of soup that lasts us (my husband and I) for about two thirds of the week. We have that for supper with some nice crusty bread, maybe a couple of ounces of a fine cheese, a piece of fruit or a scoop of sorbet. Soup is cheap: vegetables, a couple of cans of stock (I don't always have my own on hand), beans or lentils, all are dirt cheap. The rest of the week, we go out, nothing too fancy, and I try to cook a nice meal once or twice a week; at that rate, I don't mind spending good cash on a quality piece of meat or fish.

For lunches, we have salad daily and a sandwich which used to consist of store-bought cold meats. I came to realise that we were consuming far too many nitrates so now instead, I marinate a couple of chicken breasts on the SUnday, bake them, slice and freeze them, and we stick them in our sandwiches where they will have thawed out safely by lunchtime.

For a chef-in-training, this diet is probably pretty 'underachieving' but I find that it keeps us (and our bank account) healthy enough.


Joined Apr 4, 2000
You should try to use everything of what you buy. For example one night serve roast chicken. Then make vol au vent and finally use the bone for stock and make soup. If buying a whole salmon, save the heads and bones for fish stock.

I don't know if you are a big meat eater if you do try to use a little less. For example, one portion of steak can be used to make between two and four serving of beef broccoli. Try meatless meal. Do you really need to add meat to pasta sauce, try it with more veggies instead and add spices and herbs. You might not even miss the meat. Beans and grains are fairly inexpensive. Try quiche and omelette for other meatless meals.

Buy seasonal products and stock up if you can. In berry season I buy a lot and freeze them for use in winter. Nothing taste better then a blueberry pie in the middle of a snow storm! In September I buy 30 pounds of apple and make applesauce for the year. You do need a freezer to stock it all.

In some market you can find less then perfect fruits for a lot less, it doesn’t mean they are no good. The apples might have more green then red but who cares if you make applesauce. Wet blueberries are also less expensive and they taste just as good as the full price one..

Do not go shopping on an empty stomach, you will buy more then you need. Do not get tempted by cookies or any other ready made treats. If you want cookie or cake make it yourself.
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