Cook at Home
Cooking at home instead of eating out is the number one way to spend less on food. Pack your lunch instead of eating at a restaurant or hitting the drive-through. If you must eat out, use coupons and take advantage of specials.
Eating at home for dinner each night will not only provide a healthier, less expensive meal, but will foster closer family relationships.
Shop the Sales
Get in the habit of reading the weekly sales advertisements in the newspaper or mail. Make your shopping list based on these sales. If fish is on sale, how about fish tomorrow night? Stock up on ingredients that store for long periods of time such as rice, flour, pasta, condiments, dressings, condensed milk, tea bags, and other pantry items. You can also stock up on sale items that freeze well: butter, meat, cheese, pie crusts, chocolate chips, and coconut.
When turkeys go on sale before Thanksgiving, it is the cheapest price I see all year, so I purchase 3 or 4 and freeze them for yummy winter feasts.
Buy Fruit and Vegetables in Season
Winter months are the time to get a good price on citrus from Florida and June brings us good prices on watermelon and blueberries. In most parts of the country, May is the month for cheaper prices on Bing cherries and strawberries, but here in Florida, strawberries are fresh (and cheaper) in February. Watch the prices on vegetables and fruits and shop accordingly.
Consider shopping at a Farmer's Market where you can purchase larger quantities to can or make jams and jellies. Even if the prices are the same, the produce should be fresher and of better quality.
Realize that those adorable displays are advertisements. Don't get sucked into spending more money on an item because you see a lovely display in the store.
Don't shop while you are hungry. You will be more like to purchase too much food or splurge on food items that you do no need.
Add up your cart items as you go so you know how much you are spending. Keep a running total by rounding of the figures to the nearest 5. You put in a package of meat costing $12.97 and think to yourself, "$15.00." Then, as you add a head of lettuce for $1.89, a gallon of milk for $2.79, and a bag of M&Ms for $4.69, you think to yourself, "$20.00" (for adding the lettuce and milk) and "$25.00" when you add the M&Ms. If you think you have spent too much money, you can look over your cart and put items back.
Use Scraps and Leftovers
Don't throw away leftovers--they have plenty of uses. Make up microwave-safe plates of food for family members to take to work or school and heat up in the microwave. Use leftovers in casseroles or soups. Even scraps of herbs can be added to soups and salads.
Shop at Your Shelves
Look through your pantry and take stock of what you have before you go out and buy something new. You might even combine some things you find together and create a new family recipe. Look through your refrigerator and see what is hiding. Chop up leftover pickles and put them in tuna salad.
Learn to use substitutions if you are out of an ingredient. Out of buttermilk? Mix a little bit of lemon juice in with a cup of milk and let it sit for 30 minutes. Out of walnuts? Try almonds instead. Out of bread crumbs? Crush up some Corn Flakes.
Gardens are a great way to build muscle, spent time together as a family, and produce your own food. Talk to other gardeners in your neighborhood who have successful crops and see what grows and what doesn't grow well in your area. Grow fruits and vegetables that your family will enjoy eating and be sure to barter with other gardeners: "I'll trade you a bushel of corn for 15 zucchinis."
Realize that God can help you to save money. Pray for wisdom as you care for your family by providing food!
"She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls," (Proverbs 31:14-15 NIV).
Merey (Meredith Ludwig Curtis)