For the last few months, food prices have been rising drastically. And sadly, they will likely continue to do so for a little while further. My wallet has definitely felt the steep incline and I am sure so has yours. Therefore, I wanted to provide you with a few tips to save on rising food prices. This is, of course, whilst still eating nutrient-dense delicious foods.
Tips to Save on Rising Food Prices
Do Not Shop Hungry
Let me start off with a small story 😉. My husband had done our weekly shopping a few weeks ago. I went into the basement and saw what he had bought. And I thought to myself: “I can tell he was hungry when he went shopping”. I did not say anything but he told me over breakfast that he had been immensely hungry when he went shopping. EVERYTHING and I sincerely mean EVERYTHING will look delicious when you are shopping hungry. Your brain will think “food” and then buy way more and loads of things that you would usually not buy (mainly sweets, sugar, and chips, etc.). If you can tell you are close to hunger, have something small before going shopping. Your wallet will thank you 😂.
Make a List
One of the easiest tips is to make a list before you go to the market and stick to it. Think about the meals you want to cook. Then think about what you need in addition for breakfast, dinner, and any snacks. Knowing what to buy will not only cut down on your food bill, but will also greatly avoid food waste (which, in turn, is money that you would have thrown out).
On that note – use up groceries you have stored in your pantry as well and try to create meals around what you have. If you cannot think of a recipe, you can always type an ingredient into the search bar on Life & Lemons or search on google. You can also look at offers your supermarket has (can usually also be seen online) and plan your meals around that to save further.
Eat and Choose Seasonally
Produce that is in season is oftentimes a lot cheaper than when it is not. Seasonal produce also has not experienced long transportation paths, meaning that in addition it is picked when ripe and therefore tends to be more nutrient-dense. The great added benefit of seasonal food is that it may mean you are experiencing veggies and fruits that you have not known or have had limited exposure to. The more we eat diverse, the better this is for our microbiome and gut health. On this blog, I try to follow a seasonal calendar. If you are not sure what is in season right now, The World’s Healthiest Foods has an amazing guide here.
Make it Yourself
I know this tip is not possible always and sometimes we need “help” in terms of convenience, but ready-made foods are almost always more expensive than doing it yourself. This is the case for cooked meals, but also things that you may be picking up in the supermarket that you would not even consider doing yourself. Nut butter, granola, tomato, and apple sauce are things that come to mind. The same goes for bread, pizza dough, or even yogurt. Non-dairy milks, for example, are hugely expensive but quite inexpensive when done at home. Simply soak the nuts or seeds (or oats) in water overnight and then rinse and blend with fresh water. Strain through a nut-milk bag and you are good to go. A common ratio is 1:4 so for each part nuts/seeds use 4 parts water (e.g. 1/4 cup nuts and 1 cup water).
The beauty of this tip is that you can easily make it your own. This is especially true when you have dietary requirements because it allows you to “control” the ingredients and you know exactly what is part of the ingredient list. P.S. This also ties into my post from last week about Why I became a Culinary Nutrition Expert.
Use Your Freezer
This is a tip I also oftentimes forget but should not be overlooked – use your freezer (if you have one). Frozen produce is usually picked ripe and at its peak of freshness and then shock-frozen the minute it comes from the said field. That means that it oftentimes contains a lot more vitamins and minerals than its counterparts in the fresh produce section. In addition, it is way cheaper. You can buy frozen berries, fruits, veggies, and/or even herbs. Whereas frozen may not work for everything it can work for a lot of recipes quite well and will save you a significant amount of money.
Best Before Date – Is Exactly That
Best before means exactly that. It does not mean that something will go bad the minute you are over said “deadline”. Have a look at the food, smell it and do a small taste test. You will know whether something is off or not. Dairy products, when sealed correctly, usually last a lot longer than their best before date. Eggs as well. You can tell if eggs have gone bad by simply placing them into a large glass of water. If they swim at the top (and they will literally swim) then they are not good any longer. This is because the decomposition process has started and air has gone into the egg, making it lighter. In the entirety of my life testing eggs (for the last like 20 years) I only had two eggs swimming on top.
Food Sharing or Offers with Small “Dents”
Another way to save money is to use a food sharing app, an app that finds you things that are almost out of their due date (see tip above) or offers boxes of freshness with veggies that are not a perfect shape or have a small “mistake”. The food is usually just as good (if not better), it avoids food waste and gets you fresh produce for less.
Grow Your Own
Not everyone has abundant amounts of space, but growing your own can be a sure-fire way to have fresh food. The easiest ones to grow are herbs. Think about how much you pay for a pot (or just some herbs) in the supermarket. Growing those yourself in a pot is easy, does not take up a lot of space, delicious, and is way cheaper than buying. If you want to extend this and have a bit more room, you can obviously plant seeds that turn into vegetables in your garden.
There is also a recent trend to rent an allotment. This means that a farmer gives you a piece of his land and you can grow on it whatever you fancy. Growing veggies does require regular tending to, watering, weeding, the sorts. But eating your own fruit of labor (no pun intended) can also be really rewarding. Plus, again, you know exactly what has gone into that soil and onto your produce 🤗.
Not Everything Has To Be Organic
In the health world, we always hear that “organic is better”. And to a certain degree, that might be. Your produce does not get sprayed with chemicals that are harmful to our bodies. The food has to “fight” more to survive and thereby tends to also hold a greater/higher amount of phytonutrient quality for us. Said chemicals do not leech into the soil and thereby leave the ground more nutrient-dense, which again goes into our food. But – not everything has to be organic, especially when on a budget. The Dirty Dozen List provides you with the foods that should be bought organic (if you can afford it – remember in principal eating vegetables is still better than not eating vegetables). Likewise, the Clean Fifteen List provides you with foods that have naturally high defenses and therefore do not absorb chemicals as much and can definitely be bought non-organic.
Buy in Bulk
This tip is more for my US friends because we do not have this concept over here but. Buy in bulk. Bulk buying where you measure your own is a lot cheaper than if someone has done it for you. It is a great way to get nuts, seeds, legumes, and even spices at a cheaper rate.
Save the “Garbage”
The last tip for the day is do not throw away your “garbage”. Scrap vegetables (e.g. the upper leaves on something when you cut veggies or the asparagus stalks. You can add them to the freezer and when you have enough, you can make a vegetable paste from it that then gets added back to your stocks and soups. A Farm Of Your Home has an awesome Scrap Vegetable Stock Paste recipe. The other day, I saved the water I cooked my asparagus in and made a soup out of it which was absolutely divine (simply google asparagus soup and find a recipe to your liking).
I hope you enjoyed these helpful tips to save on rising food prices and that they provided you with the confidence to still navigate nutrient-dense, delicious food even in times of higher costs 💕. Do you have any additional tips that I have not mentioned above? Let me (and us) know in the comments below 🥰. Next week, I will go into proper food storing, which will also help to prolong your shopping. Beautiful cover photo by Thom Milkovic on Unsplash.