Needless to say, most of us are doing whatever we can to save money these days. We might be able to make little changes like eating out less, walking instead of spending money on gas, etc. But how the heck do we cut costs on necessities like groceries? After all, we still need to, y'know, survive.
Well, just the other week, Reddit user u/ftama asked, "What are some of your grocery hacks/changes to cooking amid the increased food prices?" People had a lot of helpful suggestions. Here are some of the best pieces of advice from the thread:
Note: Cutting back on expenses and being more frugal is great, but it can only do so much. Livable wages and affordable housing are the long-term solutions, and absolutely nobody deserves to go without food, shelter, or necessities. In the meantime though, these suggestions might make grocery shopping a liiiiiiittle less stressful while the world is on fire.
1. "On one of my days off, I plan my week's meals and set out something I already own to thaw. Then, I go to the grocery store for anything I'm missing or otherwise low on. While I'm there, I don't have any specific meat in mind but I usually buy something to replace whatever I'm planning on cooking that day."
2. "It will sound obvious, but go to the store and see what’s on sale, especially for seasonal items like fresh produce. People often go in with a plan that may have nothing to do with what’s a good price that day."
3. "I switched to smoothies instead of whole fruits. I can make a combination of fresh and frozen fruits without compromising the flavor since the texture doesn’t matter too much in the smoothie."
4. "Reducing your meat intake can drastically reduce bills. Tofu is usually like a dollar per pound at Costco, and most vegetables are even cheaper. Fill up on healthy vegetables and a more modest serving of meat. As for vegetables, just buy what's fresh, plentiful, and usually on sale."
5. "I'm freezing a lot more stuff and being much more proactive about labeling and using up foods before they go bad. In the past, I might have tossed out half a can of tomato sauce because it would go unused after a recipe. Now, everything gets portioned out and frozen on the spot with a label."
6. "I turn Maruchan ramen noodles into all kinds of things: spaghetti, Alfredo, butter noodles, pesto, beef stew, noodles, etc. If I need carbs in a dish, I add it."
7. "I'm intentional about leftover meals. I'll make extra rice one day and then use it to make fried rice [the next day]. At the end of the week, I make a homemade pizza crust and then put whatever leftovers are still in the fridge on top of it. My kids love 'leftover pizza.' It's always fun and different every week. Last week, we made three pizzas and our toppings were tacos, chicken curry, and spaghetti."
8. "I really started honing my Chinese dish skills because so much of it is rice (which is cheap), a few veggies, and even less meat. Also, a single chicken breast can be a part of a five-to-six-servings meal."
9. "Choose potatoes, onions, and garlic with no blemishes. Keep them dry, dark, and separated (onions and garlic can be together, but the potatoes need to be kept in another area). You can keep all these for weeks. I like to use pantyhose and hang the potatoes on the inside of my pantry with hooks."
10. "My local small Persian grocer has the best prices on produce, feta, spices, and especially fresh herbs. I eat a ton of lentils [from there]. They're delicious, cheap, easy, and can be spiced and prepared in an infinite number of exciting ways and in many different countries' styles."
11. "When I grocery shop, I plan my meals and put what I need for them on my list in order of where they are in the store. Then, I put an estimated price by every item on my list (based on what the price has been or what I anticipate it to be) so I don't have any big shocks at the register. Planning ahead helps a lot with shopping because you're not as likely to buy stuff you don't need."
12. "I’ve started grocery shopping online. I used to go to the grocery store with sort of a general plan but not know exactly what ingredients I need. I would wander around, see something that looked good, and then try to plan a meal around it on the fly. Now, I’ll come up with a couple of recipes, figure out exactly everything I need, and add it all to the cart online. Doing this also helps with not buying snacks or other things I don’t need. It’s a really great feeling to total everything up in the cart and see that I’m only paying $50–$60 to feed two people for the week."
13. "Roast a whole chicken instead of buying breasts or thighs already cut up. I think I paid $5.50 for a whole chicken and $9 for four breasts."
14. "We use ground turkey in place of ground beef. It's way leaner and if it's properly seasoned, it’s hard to tell the difference. Burgers, chili, tacos... It works for all of them!"
15. "Spaghetti is always cheap and easy to feed multiple people with. I make a cheap broccoli cheese casserole that easily feeds four or I make rice and gravy. Rotisserie chickens are also a godsend and so easy."
16. "I've changed what I'm growing in my garden this year. I'm currently drowning in raspberries and artichokes, all free! I'm going to be freezing most of my blueberries and preserving/canning almost everything else. I've also planted extra onions and squash because they keep for a long time and make an excellent and filling side with dinner. I still have some squash from last season that we are using up."
17. And finally: "Almost every store has a bargain bin or discount area where they sell close-to-expiring food. Unless I'm making something specific, I don't ever pay full price for meat. I just got seven portions of flank steak for $15 in the bargain bin."
Note: Entries have been edited for length and/or clarity.