20 Frugal Food Hacks
How does our family of four stick to a $300 a month food budget while eating healthy? I’ve already shared the important principles of grocery savings: shopping at discount stores, menu planning, shopping with a list, and cooking from scratch. Remembering that not everything has to be your favorite also goes a long way. And here I share my nitty-gritty little tricks, including recipes and pantry list, that help us keep costs down. So feast your eyes on my frugal food hacks.
- Buy full fat coconut milk and cut with 1 can of water to make 2 cans of light coconut milk.
- Stir a little flavored yogurt into homemade plain yogurt (recipe below) for a healthier, cheaper snack.
- Zest lemons before juicing them to extract more lemon flavor.
- Cottage cheese is the old-fashioned, less expensive Greek yogurt (26g protein/cup).
- Grow lettuce. $1 of seeds fed us salad most days for 3 months. “Salad bowl” variety is our favorite.
- Popcorn (stove-top) is the cheapest snack food. We like butter & salt or kettle corn.
- Keep a well-stocked pantry. Sign up for our email updates on the right sidebar and I’ll send you my pantry list.
- Cook dry beans in the slow cooker; freeze in jars (saved from spaghetti, salsa, etc.)
- I cook 2 lbs with 10-12 cups of water for 6-8 hours on high.
- Cheaper and healthier than canned beans.
- Make your own hummus, refried beans, or baked beans. Add to soup, chili, salads, etc.
- Whole chickens or thighs instead of boneless, skinless chicken breast. Less than half the price per pound.
- Make chicken stock from the bones.
- Make bread (in 5 minutes a day). Great fresh from the oven; toast the leftovers, or use for grilled cheese, garlic bread, crostini, French toast, or French bread pizzas.
- Make yogurt for basically the cost of milk. It’s so easy! I can’t find a site that doesn’t over-complicate it, so here’s the process:
- Heat a gallon of milk (anything but skim) to scald it (not quite boiling).
- Transfer to a large bowl (I use my crockpot stoneware) & cool to 110 degrees, or when you can stand to put both pinkie fingers in for 10 seconds.
- Stir in 1 Tablespoon of plain yogurt (the starter), from the store or your last batch.
- Cover & place in the oven with the light on, or in a cooler with hot water bottles for 8-16 hours, until set. Strain if you want it thicker (I don’t). Then refrigerate.
- Homemade granola bars—cheaper, and more filling and nutritious. (I use half the sugar in the linked recipe.)
- Buy one: one snack food, or juice, or whatever treat that isn’t necessary but is fun to have in moderation. When it’s gone, it’s gone, till next week.
- Stock up on marked down meat. I recently purchased 100 pounds of chicken for 33-50 cents per pound, and 20 pounds of pork chops for $1 per pound.
- Buy soda in 2-liters.
- Drink (homemade) iced tea instead of soda.
- Candy instead of fruit snacks. I’d rather give my kids 1 or 2 gummy bears than a whole, over-priced bag of fruit snacks. The piece of candy has less sugar than a pouch of “fruit snacks.”
- Peanuts are the cheapest nut.
- Cut kids’ juice with half water (or more). Or serve kids iced herbal tea with a little honey or just a splash of juice for a flavorful, healthier, and thriftier alterative to juice.
Chew on this principle: try to find the cheapest way you can live with to meet your nutritional needs. Think twice about all the marketing ploys to buy “super-foods” or specialty items when there are cheaper, healthier alternatives right under your nose.
What are you frugal food hacks? And what splurges are worth it to you?