Category Archives: Food

Frugal Foodie: Eating Well on a Budget

Learn the frugal foodie tactics and strategies on how to slash your food bills while eating well!

The Art of Being a Frugal Foodie

How much do you spend on food? 

If you’re like most families, chances are it’s a big part of your budget. 

The USDA puts together a monthly report that looks into average food expenses.

They break it down into thrifty, low-cost, moderate, and liberal spending plans based on how old your kids are. 

And the monthly costs for a family of four vary from $567 – $1296.

Like I mentioned last episode when you’re working as a family towards financial independence, you have to look for big wins. 

Mastering your food expenses is a big win, but….

If you think I’m going to tell you to skip eating out or only make these basic dishes, I’m not. 

Food is something I don’t like to skimp out on.

We want to eat better and enjoy our meals, whether it’s at home (which is most of the time) or when we’re out. 

So if you look at our budget, it’s a big category for us relative to other expenses.

But it doesn't blow our budget and we’re still able to save for other important goals.  

And looking over the past year, our spending is around the USDA’s thrifty and low-cost plan. 

The challenge – besides being smarter with money – is also finding ways to get meals up and ready in a relatively short time. 

After work it’s tempting to grab some food on the way home. 

So we need to have things set up so preparing a tasty meal is a snap. 

And when we do it out – because yes, we like to go out sometimes, we try to maximize the experience. 

So if you want to get a handle on your food bill and still have a good time, I think you’ll enjoy this episode. 

I’ve recruited some others to help. 

Besides having a masters in nutrition, author Shanah Bell is also a busy mom of five.

Finding meals are all of her kids enjoy can be tricky, but she has strategies that make meals less stressful, healthy, and fun. 

Patrick Livingston is also a foodie and loves trying new things that are off the beaten path.

He also has some creative ideas on how to make those nights out even more special while still sticking to your budget. 

We’re going to look at this from two sides:

  • How to make tasty, quick and affordable meals
  • How to enjoy a meal out so that’s it’s special and you’re not breaking the budget

Let’s get started!

Resources to Become a Frugal Foodie

If you're looking to eat better while sticking to your budget, here are some resources to check out:

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today.

If you're looking for a rewards card that fits you, Coastal has a Signature Premier Rewards Visa Credit Card with some great benefits!

Eating Well (and Prepping a Meal Quickly) at Home

Elle Martinez: I hope it’s not shocking news to tell you that eating more at home is both a wallet and waist saver.

One way you can set yourself up for some food wins is by making sure your kitchen is stocked with the essentials so you can whip something up fairly quickly.

Nope, you don’t need a ton of fancy tools or ingredients. Actually one of the best investments you can make is typically some of the cheapest items you can pick up at the store – spices and herbs.

Note: You want to save even more and have something fresh? You can also grow your own, either in a back yard garden or in container pots around the house!

Shanah Bell: Spices and herbs for us said the biggest thing that a lot of people don't think about that we use as staples are a diverse blend of spices.

We have a huge cabinet full of a lot of different herbs and spices because there was not a lot of nutritional value and do different things for your body and your overall health but they completely change what a dish can taste like.

So even if you're making some like rice and beans and rice and beans happen to be things that we keep on hand it can be done here one day to the next depending on what spices we put in there and what else we put in and it can be a completely different meal.

Elle Martinez: This may seem like a small tip but I can not overemphasize how important it is to have these essential ingredients in your pantry.

You can have a dish – Shannon mentioned rice and beans – but by changing the urban spices you can have several different dishes and mix it up every week.

Thinking Like a Chef

Another related idea and tip that you can use when you're shopping?

Think of items that you can use in several dishes.

I'll give you an example of three kinds of categories of food where it's the same thing on paper but when you're cooking it can be completely different each time. Pizzas tacos and stir fries

I'm just going to use Chipotles and as an example, we're going with tacos.

Yes, it's a simple dish but depending on the meats the vegetables even the seasonings that you use it's like a different meal each time.

So when you go grocery shopping don't get items that you can only use for one meal for the week actually go for items that you can use repeatedly.

If you have the herbs and spices to mix things up it will help. You not only save money because you're getting that discount buying in bulk but also reducing waste.

Elle Martinez: You can really make a lot of different things on your own with herbs and spices for example.

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, here are some ways to support it.

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your review on Apple or Stitcher.
  • Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money. My book is designed for a busy couple to set up their finances in 4 weeks. Get tips and tools that have worked for other couples on their journey of building their marriage and wealth together!

Music Credit

Like the music in this episode? Our theme song is by Gentle Regime. Additional music by Lee Rosevere.

this episode was originally released July 2019.

Frugal Foodie: How to Level Up with Homebrewing and Gardening

Just because we’re at home doesn’t mean we can’t still be frugal foodies.

Today, we’ll look at how you can jumpstart a garden and start making craft brews at home!

Frugal Foodie at Home

Frugal foodie is back! If you’re new to this series, it’s where we explore ways you can eat well without breaking the budget.

For some though, when you hear frugal. It means cheap. I get it. Maybe, you know, someone who brags about getting the absolute lowest price on everything. Whether it’s good or bad.

While you can save money being frugal, the real focus is getting the best value.

When it comes to food and really life, he don’t want to settle for less just because it’s the cheapest. You want to get the most out of what you have.

With this series, we look at ways that you can make your dollar go further. We’ve talked about getting great deals on food, whether it’s grocery hacks, meal planning, or even going out to eat.

Today, we’re going to look at another way you can enjoy fantastic meals and still keep things affordable.

We’re talking about gardening and home brewing.

What was interesting was how incredibly relaxing these hobbies, where especially last year.

Many of us had more time at home in the usual options weren’t always available.

Family trips, checking out the museums or festivals were all off the table. We had to find ways to keep ourselves busy and have some creative outlets.

For us that included making home brews and being out in the garden.

We had home brewed years ago, but when we had two toddlers at home, it became more of a hassle so we took a hiatus.

Thankfully, we still had the equipment in our basement so when we felt like starting that back up last year, it was fairly simple.

The other hobby gardening is something we’ve been working on year after year, especially with this house. We have our main space Outback, where we grow hot peppers, tomatoes, different green strawberries and more.

2020 was still… you know, 2020, but it was good to have a project to work on.

While I don’t think all of our hobbies have to be productive or optimized, I do feel like there are some great benefits with making and growing your own food.

If you’re really looking to make meals at home, more enjoyable and special, it’s hard to beat something that you grew or made yourself.

Today, we’re going to look at what it takes to get started so the two of you can level up and become frugal foodies.

In this episode, we’ll go over:

  • how you can set up an easy to maintain a garden in or outside your house
  • Explore the fun of home brewing craft beers
  • look at the numbers and see how they come out.

Are you ready? Let’s get started!

Resources to Become a Frugal Foodie

If you’d like to try out your handy with gardening or homebrewing, here are some handy resources to help you get started! 


Home Brewing

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal Credit Union!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union. If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today!

We’ve been members for years and love their service and competitive rates on checking and savings accounts!

What You Need to Know to Get Started with Gardening 

When you’re talking about being a foodie, you can’t ignore how much better dishes are when you have ingredients. 

Whether you enjoy meals at home or out, what makes a meal superb is what goes into it. Fresh ingredients, locally sourced are popular trends, but really what’s more fresh and local than what you grow at home?

Even if you focus on just growing herbs, you can elevate your dishes. 

So why don’t more of us garden? 

I think many of us, which a few years ago including myself, feel like it's complicated or you have to have some sort of natural ability. 

Gardening doesn’t have to be complicated. 

Once you understand the basics It's a lot easier to build a garden that fits you and your space

But there are several great reasons why you should try it out. 

  1. Health and mood boosts. Gardening outside can give you some exercise as you tend to your spot and it can help with reducing stress
  2. Encourages healthier habits. 
  3. Gets your kids eating better too. Another bonus to having a garden? You may help your kids develop a habit of healthier eating. One study found that college students who had some garden experience growing up ate more fruits and vegetables in their diet

So if you want to get started, here’s how to make things much easier on you. 

Before you add anything to your garden space, you have to understand a few key things. 

For plants to grow, they need a certain amount of 

  • Sun, 
  • water, 
  • Soil

Depending on what you want to grow, they’ll have different requirements.

If you’ve had plants die on your before, chances are you weren’t able to meet one of those three key ingredients. 

So let’s look at how you can set yourself up for success and ways to keep your expenses in check.

How Much Should We Water Our Plants?

I’m going to start with one of the most common mistakes gardeners make – not correctly watering your plants. 

If you’re using containers with no drainage for your indoor garden, you’re at higher risk for overwatering. If you’re outdoors, you may not be watering enough. 

How can you figure out what’s enough for your vegetables, herbs, and fruits? Check the soil. Using either your finger or shovel gently push aside some soil to see how deep the water has gotten. 

Keep your outside garden adequately watered without having your bills through the roof  with  these strategies. 

  1. Focus on the roots. If you’re using a soaker hose or a drip irrigation system, place near the plants’ base. 
  2.  Water in the morning. Higher chance of getting soaked by the roots rather than evaporated and give time to dry, which helps prevent fungal diseases
  3. Use mulch. You can certainly pick some up at the story, but if you don’t mind waiting, you can get some free mulch by calling your local tree company and see about getting on their list. We’ve gotten two batches of mulch. Using the prices I saw online, we saved almost $1,000 between the two batches. 
  4. Reclaim rainwater. We have a rain barrel system that allows us to collect 50 gallons of water. Reusing that water not only saves money, but it’s also environmentally friendly. 

Solar Power Gardening

Second key ingredient for garden success is the proper amount of sun. 

Full SunSun/Shade 
Tomatoes, Okra, Melons,
Sweet potatoes, Hot Peppers, Green Beans, Cucumbers, Zucchini, Pumpkins
Basil, Lavender, Stevia
Spinach, Chard, Leaf Lettuce, Peas, Radishes, Kale, Arugula,
Green Onion, Bush Beans
Cilantro, Parsley, Lemon Balm

Soil: It’s Not Just Dirt

One thing you quickly find out when it comes to growing your garden is how much soil matters. 

Soil is much more than dirt. In general, all soil is a mix of silt, sand, and clay. When you hear people talking about their soil being clay, sand, and silt, they’re giving you information about the soil texture and the particles.

We have lots of sandy dirt toward the far side. When it rains the water washes parts of it away, exposing rocks and stones. Basically, it’s like a rocky beach.

Closer to the house we’re practically at the opposite end – hard clay. Some areas have moss while others are bare spots.

Not sure what you have? Start with your hands and eyes. Get some of the soil and see how it feels. You can do a few do it yourself tests to get an idea of what you’re dealing with.

You can also do a soil test with a home kit.  You can purchase one at your local hardware or garden store. They can give you a ballpark figure about the macro-nutrients Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K).

If you want a more detailed analysis, you get your soil tested by your state’s cooperative extension. If you have to pay, it’s usually a small amount (in North Carolina it’s $4 during their busy season which is between December 1 and March 31).

When a clear idea of what your soil lacks or has an overabundance of, you can amend it to address those needs. 

Using Compost to Feed Your Garden

Whether you have an outdoor space or your garden is strictly inside, you can improve it by composting. 

Composting is pretty straightforward for us. We have a pail underneath the kitchen sink where we put our kitchen scraps and any veggies or fruits that have gone bad.

Every day or so we head outside to add our scraps to our compost piles in the backyard. We use a geobin and a tumblr  tucked away behind some trees. 

They each hold about 200 gallons (around 12 lbs per gallon) so if we had to buy the equivalent amount of compost from the store, we’d have to pay $720 (basing on a 40lb bag being $24) to cover one bin.

Once it’s broken down you can then use that in your garden. So yeah, doing so good for the earth also means we get to save quite a bit of money!

Easy Plants to Grow in Your Food Garden

Now that you understand the essentials that you need, and your own space, it’s time for the fun part – choosing what to grow., 

I wasn’t joking about being bad with gardening. I used to be a person who kept a cactus because it was the only plant I felt I could keep alive.

Fast forward a few years and now I’m hunting through seed catalog picking out what we’re going to grow. It didn’t happen overnight, but it wasn’t as hard as I had thought.

A big part of what helped me was building confidence and practicing gardening skills with easy to grow plants.

Easy Herbs, Vegetables, and Fruits to Include in your Garden

Here are some of my favorite easy to grow plants: 

  • Rosemary
  • Mint
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Carrots*
  • Sweet Potatoes*
  • Green Beans
  • Spinach
  • Peppers
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Onions

Should We Use Seeds or Seedlings?

If this is your first garden, I say grab both.

You can grab seeds for root vegetables. Tomatoes can be less stressful starting with seedlings while growing your herbs from seeds isn’t much of a big deal.

You also want to consider your budget. Seedlings are usually pricier, so you may want to pick and choose carefully.

Grow Your Garden

Hopefully you can see that it can be whether it’s indoors or outdoors, having a garden can be a fantastic hobby that doesn’t have to break your budget

With fresh ingredients you can prepare an exquisite yet affordable meal, the definition of being a frugal foodie!

Homebrewing: What You Need to Know to Get Started

Like many people who have had thoughts of making their own beer, the initial motivation for us was fueled by local brewery tours. 

Raleigh has some fantastic spots and we enjoyed hanging out on a weekend trying a new place. 

It was funny because at one point during the tour, the guide would usually mention how it got started with homebrewing. 

That intrigued us. 

After checking online with some sites and speaking with friends, we decided to give it a try.

The good news is that beer really just needs 4 main ingredients – water, grain, hops, and yeast. 

While we thought you’d need a ton of equipment to get started, that’s not the case. Of course, if you’re super into this and want to do huge batches, your equipment list may be a lot, but for most, it’s fairly affordable. 

Getting a Homebrewing Starter Kit

We grabbed a kit for a one gallon brew from Brooklyn Brewshop

The one gallon set up is a great option for those that don’t know if they’d like to homebrew on a regular basis, having a small kit can let you test the waters. It’s also handy if space is limited at your home. 

Having enjoyed that we then decided to get into making 5 gallon batches. We decided to look around and price shop for beginner’s kits.

Since we don't always agree on drinking the same beer, we wanted a set up that would allow us to brew two batches at a time.

The time added would be minimal and looking at costs, it basically came down to grabbing an extra bucket. 

Thankfully there’s a local brew supply shop right here in Raleigh, American Brewmaster.   

Using Recipe Kits to Explore the World of Beer Together

I’m proud of the different styles we’ve tried out so far. We each have our personal favorites and we have a few enjoy together like red ales, 

While we have created our own recipes, specifically when we were looking at meads and gluten free beers with our friends, we mainly use kits. 

If you’re  starting off with homebrewing, using a recipe kit makes the learning process a lot easier.

Recipe kits are prepackaged with pretty much all the ingredients you need to make a batch of beer, including malt (perhaps in extract form), hops, and yeast.

The correct amounts are included so you can simply follow the recipe included and be set.

We use a great local brew shop in the area, American Brewmaster, to grab most of our supplies and I’ve used Brooklyn Brew shop for my one gallon batches.

Are You Actually Saving Money Making Homebrews?

Recipe KitCostBottles Brewed (12oz)Cost Per Bottle/6pk
Honey IPA$159$1.67/$10.02
Dry Stout$34.5050$0.69/$4.14
American Amber Ale$33.5050$0.67/$4.02
Chocolate Maple Porter$1510$1.50/$9.00

I think you see two things right here:

  • The 5 gallon brews are very cost effective, with the prices being much better than what we find at the stores.
  • Using the recipe kits from Brooklyn Brew Shop is not the way to save money.

For around $40, you get the equipment you need and usually a recipe kit mix. 

While I believe that you can save money by brewing your own beer, I don’t think you should have it as a hobby if that’s your sole reason for doing it.

It does take time to brew and bottle your beer, which some people may find annoying. However it’s been a fun activity for us to share in as a couple and with friends.

Frugal Foodie: Can You Really Save Money?

Let’s run the numbers. 

The best part is not that you’re saving money, but you’re enjoying a hobby that enriches your life and makes meals at home more fun. 

Key Takeaways

Before we wrap I want to share some key takeaways from preparing this episode. 

  • Start small. Indoor herb garden or a small lot outside can be fun without a lot of hassle. 
  • Not all hobbies have to be money makers or savers. While you can save money, it doesn’t have to be your main reason. 
  • Community makes it better. While we are home more, these hobbies are a fantastic way to connect with others. 

There’s so much we can chat about with gardening or homebrewing, so if you’re into either or you want to get started, come join in our Facebook group  Thriving Families. 

We’re there to support one another with our family and financial goals. I’d love to share any tips I can and I know there are others too. 

We hope to see you there!

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, here are some ways to support it.

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your rating and review on Apple Podcasts.
  • Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money. My book is designed for a busy couple to set up their finances in 4 weeks. Get tips and tools that have worked for other couples on their journey of building their marriage and wealth together!

Music Credit

Our theme song is from Staircases. Additional music by various artists from Audiio.

Frugal Foodie: Enjoy Great Food & Save Money

Food is usually one of the biggest expenses families have. We dive right back in with ways you can save a significant amount of money while still being a foodie!

Becoming a Frugal Foodie

Frugal foodie is back!

During our first season last year, I did an episode eating well on a budget and becoming a frugal foodie

It was one of the most popular episodes by far. I had a lot of fun doing it because we not only looking at ways to save on food – which can be a huge expense but how to do it in such a way that you’re still enjoying fantastic meals. 

Simply going for the cheapest foods is not a smart option. For one thing, there’s a lot of highly processed food options out there that are cheaper, but not good for you.

Your health can take a dive which can affect your quality of life and really the since the podcast is called Simplify and Enjoy, you can’t take advantage of the second part if you’re unhealthy. 

And if you consider yourself a foodie, you probably want your meals to be not just healthy, but tasty and full of flavor. 

Now based on the last show, I saw that I missed a critical step for many on their path to becoming a frugal foodie. 

It’s that actual transition from regularly enjoying a meal out with friends to becoming someone who can invite buddies over for meals. 

What if you love food, but hate to cook? What if your idea of meal prep is ordering in? 

So in this episode, we’re going to get into:

  • essential kitchen items you need to whip up a fantastic meal with 20 minutes or less of work
  • whether grocery delivery services and meal planning services can save you money and quickly level up your cooking 
  • My favorite resources for quick and easy recipes

Let’s get started!

Resources to Become a Frugal Foodie

If you’re looking to eat better while sticking to your budget, here are some resources to check out:

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today.

If you’re looking for a rewards card that fits you, Coastal has a Signature Premier Rewards Visa Credit Card with some great benefits!

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, here are some ways to support it.

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your review on Apple or Stitcher.
  • Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money. My book is designed for a busy couple to set up their finances in 4 weeks. Get tips and tools that have worked for other couples on their journey of building their marriage and wealth together!

Music Credit

Like the music in this episode? Our theme song is by Gentle Regime. Additional music by Lee Rosevere.

Plan Your Meals for the Next Week

Welcome to the 20 Habit Challenge, where we break down key habits that can help you simplify and transform your money, home, and life!

Have you ever had a stressful day where you're pretty much drained and just want to crash at home? What do you do for dinner?

I'll be honest – for me that siren call of the drive-thru has won out.

Save Money, Get Healthy

For many people, when they start tracking their spending, one area that seems to be way more than they expected is their meals out.

Those last-minute decisions that felt like smart (okay, easy) choices were really sucking up their money and throwing off their budget.

And I don't think I have to tell you that eating out consistently is not only bad for your wallet, but it's more than likely killing your waistline and health.

Those fast food and fast casual places tend to be heavy on the calories.

Today's habit is about getting better control over your health.

Plan Your Meals for the Next Week

I want you to plan out your meals for the next seven days.

That's it.

Why am I asking you to do this?

There are a few reasons:

  • Planning ahead will help you resist the fast food temptation. If you know you have something ready (or easy to whip up) at home, you're more likely to drive past the drive-thru.
  • You'll become aware and develop more discipline with your food choices. We literally are what we eat. Planning out your meals will allow you to design a more balanced plan.
  • You free up cash for better things. I don't know anybody that absolutely loves eating a ton of fast and convenient foods. The appeal of them is that they're quick. Save your money for what really matters to you.

Now if you want to do a deep dive with your meal plan, go right for it, but it's not necessary.

All I want you to do is to jot down what you'd like to eat. Mondays could be nachos or tacos, Tuesday you'll do a quick stir fry. You can also eat out one night, just make it a part of your plan.

The more mindful you are with your food, the easier it is to make better choices.

And with a plan for the week, it'll make grocery shopping quicker because you know what you need instead of guessing and grabbing some unnecessary extras. Win-win!

Being aware of what your eating can have a huge benefit for your health and for your wallet.

Easy and Healthy Meal Plans for Busy People

When it's new, planning out your meals can seem difficult so here are some easy meal plans that can help you get healthy while still eating like a foodie (without going broke!).

Use them for inspiration (or just follow if you want the work done for you) so you can worry less about getting it right and instead get excited about trying this out.

Your Take on Meal Planning

I'd love to hear from you and get your take. Have you ever planned your meals ahead? How did it work out? Do you have any favorite go-to dishes for those busy nights?

5 Delicious, Cheap, and Easy Restaurant Style Meals

Who doesn't enjoy a fantastic and delicious meal at a restaurant? We've had some great dishes and stories over the years that we cherish. (I'm still searching for cooking that came close to that hole in the wall Thai place in Los Angeles!)

Cheap & Easy Restaurant Recipes

However, going out to eat can be pricey. We've learned, though, that with a little bit of effort and we could have more nights in without sacrificing a delicious meal.

If you're looking to recreate some special meals, I gathered dinner recipes based around five different themes that are popular at restaurants.

Steakhouse Classic

We've learned that minimal seasoning and a good cut of meat makes all the difference with steak dinners.

When my husband got our grill he quickly dove into all things steak and honestly, I now prefer his ribeye over most places.

Seafood Delight

Are you a fan of the beach? These recipes highlight some great seafood!

If you're outside and the meal has you filled up, you can skip dessert and have a mojito (or nojito) instead to cool off.

Quiet Night In

Sometimes the weather dictates that dinner at home would be best. That doesn't mean it has to be boring.

Have a good time in the kitchen preparing this and then enjoy the fruits of your labor with a Netflix binge.

Delicious and Easy Stew

Admit – sometimes you just don't want to be in the kitchen. Tired, busy, whatever the reason, your best friend on those days is a crockpot.

With the stew being so hearty you can skip an appetizer.

Comfort Food

I love getting a pork shoulder done for get togethers. It's easy to make and there is plenty to go around.

Enjoying Eating Out

Even though we enjoy having a  fantastic meal at home, we still have date nights out. It's all about having balance.

Having upped our cooking game, though, we're a bit choosier when we go out to restaurants.

By the way, if you want to get some fantastic clone recipes from popular restaurants,  try out CopyKat. I also have some easy to make recipes on Married Food.

I'd love to hear from you – what are some of your favorite meals?

How to Slash Your Food Bill in Half and Save Serious Time!

Want to feed your family well, but without breaking the budget? Learn how you can slash your grocery bills in half with this key item!

Food is a big deal in my house.

Not only because we love to eat (we do!), but if you look at our budget, it's kind of a big deal.

We're not big spenders –  If the quality and taste are the same, store brands are our preference. Still, with a family of four, groceries can easily balloon and take a huge chunk of money.

One helpful tool we used is a price book.

I know it sounds old school and might scare you off, but let me show you why and how it works and then a few tools you can use to save next time you go grocery shopping.

The Power of Grocery Price Books

In short, a price book tracks how much certain food costs. Some people like to break it down and list prices from several stores while others (like me), jot down the lowest average price and where you found it.

The idea is that you'll not only save money by knowing where the best deals are, but you'll also avoid having to hunt around a few stores trying to get a great price.

I'm all for saving money, but I'm happier having my time saved as well.

How to Create a Price Book

Having a price book isn’t complicated and doesn't take long. You can make it as high or low tech as you want.

Here are a few steps to get you started:

  • Make a list of groceries to track. Here's where people can give themselves more work than they need to. You don't have to track every little item you've ever shopped for! Instead look at your meal and the grocery list you created. Chances are there are several core staples on your list. Focus on those.
  • Record as you shop. Visit your normal grocery stores and record the price and the size amount for each item. You can jot down on paper or use an app like Google Notes or Evernote.
  • Review your finding. You can load up the data on a spreadsheet and figure out who has the deal by comparing unit prices (apples to apples comparison).

Boom! You're done.

You now can base your shopping trips on who has the best value for certain products.

You’ll discover trends on certain items and where you’ll most likely find the best deal.

Save More on Your Groceries

If you want to shave a bit more from your food budget without taking time out of your schedule, I have a few more tips:

  • Use a price book along with paper and printable online grocery coupons can drastically cut down your bills.
  • Buy meat in bulk and freeze. We try to get a good amount of meat on sale, divide it up for several meals, and then freeze it. That tip drops the cost per pound down. When we get home, for example, I have broken down ground beef into several bags for meatloaf, spaghetti, tacos, hamburger helper, etc.
  • Take advantage of sales that you’d actually buy without the sale. Sometimes I want to buy something because it’s on sale. It’s not something that we use a lot or even at all. When you do that you’re not really saving money, you’re spending more. It’s not bad if you do this once a shopping trip if you want to expand your menu, but if you’re on a tight budget, try to minimize this.

Hope this helps you guys!