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Strategies to Save Money on Food

Food and groceries are, after housing costs, one of the biggest monthly expenses. I have found a simple way to save money on food. It’s a bit backwards from how most people think. Usually you go shopping trying to find the best deals that save money. This is important, but here is another approach. Aim to spend less than $1 per person per meal when you prepare the meal. This means that when you go to the cupboard or refrigerator think cheap! Then extend that back to the source.

Here is an example. When I want to prepare a cheap lunch I might prepare an omelet. I know eggs are cheap and a few shreds of meat and cheese are also not expensive. I would never buy a prepared or ready-to-heat meal because they are a waste of money. Eggs are normally fairly cheap, but we do even better buying eggs from a local farmer for $1.25 per dozen. In the store they are twice as much. So we pay only 10 cents each for an egg. Two eggs go in each omelet plus a bit of cheese, scraps of left over meat, and some dried herbs. Serve this with a slice of tomato and a glass of homemade iced tea and you have a meal for somewhere around 60 cents per person. Now let’s consider some other things.


Don’t buy pre-sliced cheese. Look carefully at the price. I was amazed. In some cases it is one dollar per slice! Buy a block of low cost local cheese. In the area where we live that is marble cheddar. A few slices off the block might add up to 10 or 20 cents.


We (in the western world) eat too much meat. You really don’t need any meat at all if you substitute other proteins. However, if you eat meat, eat it at most once per day and even then eat small quantities of it. Eating less meat will make you healthier and wealthier. (You’ll be good looking and rich!!)


The fact that most fish have little to no saturated fats but do have omega oils, which are good for your heart, means that fish should be on the menu at least once per week. Shellfish is not as good for you and is often expensive. Avoid it in favor of white fish like haddock, tilapia or catfish. You can also often get trout cheap enough to make the $1 per person budget.

Breakfast Cereals

Packaged breakfast cereals can be very expensive. Even so, they still may provide a meal for around $1. However if you eat like the frugal Scots and take a bowl of homemade oatmeal for breakfast you will save even more money. It’s really quite good with a bit of honey and milk on it. Oats are also known to lower blood cholesterol. 

Regardless of when you have your big meal - mid-day or evening - you can still make it meet the $1 per person budget. Pasta and tomato sauce is low in cost, so is a stir-fry of chopped meat, seasonal vegetables, and rice. There are probably thousands of combinations of foods that you can make for $1 per person (or less).

All you must do is be creative, keep costs in mind, and think cheap when you approach the refrigerator and cupboard as well as the grocery store shelf. If you live in a rural area there are farmers all around you and by approaching them you may be able to get your food much cheaper. Farmers usually receive less than 50% of what the food sells for on the store shelf. They are all self-employed and will more often than not be more than happy to sell you

produce at a great bargain.


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