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4 Tips for Saving Money on Food This Summer

Overspending on food happens so easily, especially during the summer when the temptation to dine out or indulge in seasonal treats is at its peak. However, with a bit of creativity and some strategic planning, you can enjoy delicious meals without breaking the bank. In this post, we’ll explore four practical and unconventional tips to help you save money on food this summer. From shopping at discount grocery stores to joining a CSA, these strategies will help you make the most of your food budget while still enjoying the best that summer has to offer.

1. Shop at discount grocery stores

Discount grocery stores often have high-quality food at a lower price because they stock the “ugly” or rescued food from bigger-name stores. The purpose of these stores is to help reduce food waste and save you money, so shopping there is a double whammy! You may find that discount stores don’t have the same items week-to-week or even carry everything you need for your grocery trip, but purchasing some of your list at a discount store will help you save overall.

In episode 83 of The Plan to Eat Podcast, Alli Powell shares that she starts her grocery shopping at a discount store and buys as many items on her list as possible before moving on to a conventional grocery store. This process and some thrifty planning have helped her cut her grocery bill in half!

2. Create a budget 

Food and grocery budgeting is super important because food costs are a major culprit for overspending. Whether it’s buying too much at the store, making multiple trips in one week (which always results in spending more), or eating out frequently, food is an area we can generally “trim some fat”. 

When money is tight it’s easy to say, “I’ll just cut back on my spending”, but it’s hard to know where you’re overspending and how to reduce it without a budget. When you have a method for tracking your finances, you can get deliberate about where to prioritize your spending. We love the YNAB process for creating a budget by giving every dollar a job and embracing your true expenses. Creating a budget requires intentionality and upfront planning, but that process will reduce your stress about money and give you back much needed mental space.

3. Cook at home more

Summer evenings have a romantic feel that is great for sitting out on a patio to people-watch and eat dinner as the day cools off, but I’ve gotta burst that bubble with a reminder that eating out is expensive. My husband and I often spend as much on one dinner out as we do on an entire week’s worth of groceries! Just as food costs have increased at the grocery store, they’ve increased for restaurants too and those higher costs get passed on to the consumer. 

I’m all for supporting local businesses and restaurants, but when it comes to saving money, eating at home is a no-brainer. If you’re unaccustomed to cooking and eating at home, start with a meal plan that includes recipes you already know how to cook. There’s no shame in keeping it simple and learning new recipes as you become more comfortable. 

If time in the evening is your problem, do some meal prep on the weekend and either have meals that are “reheat and eat” or individual items that can be thrown together quickly for a meal. Batch-cooking freezer meals to pull out on a busy night can lend some flexibility to your schedule too. 

4. Join a CSA or food co-op

If you tend to buy organic produce at the grocery store, joining a local CSA is going to be the best way to save money and have an abundance of food! You typically pay upfront for your CSA share and then receive weekly bundles with seasonal food. If you don’t have the time, energy, or space to grow your own garden, a CSA is the next best thing and for most of the summer, you will have more produce than you know what to do with!

Joining a local food co-op can also be a sustainable way to get local and organic items for less than a big-name store. Co-op members often get special discounts and rewards or profit sharing from the business. Check out this co-op locator to find a co-op store near you!

Saving money on food doesn’t mean sacrificing quality or enjoyment. By implementing these tips—shopping at discount grocery stores, creating a budget, cooking at home more often, and joining a CSA or food co-op—you can significantly reduce your food expenses while still eating well. Embrace these strategies this summer to keep your wallet happy and your meals satisfying.

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