How We Save Money on Food

I love my wife.  Not only is she the most beautiful woman I have ever seen, but she is also very, very thrifty.  I had previously highlighted her thriftiness as she obtained free baby clothes, toys and even strollers while we were saving money in preparation for baby.  

 

save-money-on-foodOne aspect that I haven’t shared is how she is able to save money on food and groceries.  If she had more time on her hands, I really think she could compete with an Extreme Couponer.  She loves coming home from the store and playing the “Guess How Much I Paid” game with me when she pays near to nothing for an item.  

 

Before I got married, I regularly spent $500 on groceries alone for myself per month.  Not to mention the $200 per month that I spent dining out at restaurants.  I wasn’t even dining out socially or leisurely most of the time.  Usually it was just because I was too lazy to cook that particular night.

 

save-money-on-foodOnce I got married, I basically stopped eating fast food for dinner because my wife can cook.  Have I bragged enough about my wife yet?  Because she is truly amazing.  I grew up eating typical American food, but my wife is Iranian and makes these incredible homemade dishes that make my mouth water as I think about it.  My picky palate was skeptical about this foreign food at first, but I quickly became a convert and wondered where this food had been all my life.

 

The Way I Grocery Shop

save-money-on-foodEarly on, I still did a little grocery shopping.  That was short-lived though.  She didn’t understand why I wouldn’t create my grocery list in adherence to the weekly deals.  She also didn’t understand why I insisted upon going to the more expensive grocery store in the area.  My grocery receipts would appall her.  I had no excuse except for the fact that I preferred the more expensive grocery store since the aisles were wider and since I was more familiar with where everything was located in it.  Needless to say, she didn’t find those reasons good enough to justify my spending.

 

She and I both knew I was willing to pay extra for the convenience.  But, she insisted that taking some time on the front-end would save us time and more importantly money on the back-end if shopping trips were planned in advance.   

 

Homework

save-money-on-foodStarting then, each week she would go through the circulars for four different grocery stores in our vicinity, circling that week’s best deals.  In no time at all, the amount of money that we were spending dropped by $100 for groceries, with two mouths to feed.  One of our most-circled advertisements is that of Aldi.  The prices there are so low that they usually beat out the competition.  

 

Couponing

I know many people also save a ton of money by couponing.  We clipped coupons regularly before the arrival of our little guy.  Since he has joined our family, my wife doesn’t seem to have enough time to go through the circulars and clip coupons from the weekly newspaper.  However, if she knows she is buying a certain brand, she will look online to find any free printable coupons.  

 

The nice thing about some grocery stores like Aldi is they don’t even accept manufacturer’s coupons.  So she doesn’t feel as bad about her lack of couponing these days.  

 

Restaurant Spending

save-money-on-foodHowever, my restaurant spending hasn’t dropped much.  Totally my fault though.  I use to bring leftovers for lunch at work, but I found that eating outside for lunch provided a much needed break midday.  When I previously brought lunch with me to work, I definitely saved a ton of money.  But, I like to get out of work environment and clear my head.  It allows me to relax and decompress from a busy morning.

 

I know many of you that are striving for FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) bring your lunch with you to work, and you save a ton of money.  On top of that, many of you are amazing cooks and enjoy eating your leftovers.  As amazing of a cook as my wife is, I have never enjoyed eating the same meal two or three days in a row.  I am a leftover snob, and I know it.  It’s a weakness of mine that I recognize.  Fortunately for us, my wife is not nearly as picky and often times prefers leftovers.  So thankfully, food is rarely wasted in our home.

 

Discounted Giftcards

So, with the knowledge that I frequent a handful of restaurants weekly, my wife was determined to help me save money during my lunch hour.  She peruses through websites like CardCash and Cardpool to see if there are any discounted gift cards for the restaurants that I go to each week.  Discounts range can range from 2-30%, but whatever the discount, it is money saved.

 

So what do you all think?  What do you do to save money on groceries?  Have you ever purchased discounted gift cards?   Share your thoughts below.

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53 Comments

  1. It’s adorable how you speak about your wife. She sounds awesome with her savings techniques and mindset – being frugal and working for FI is definitely a joint venture when you’re married. I love Aldi too! Best place in Australia for affordable grocery shopping.

    Jasmin
    Dividends Down Under recently posted…The cost of investingMy Profile

    • I am partial to my wife 🙂 Aldi only came recently to our area in the last year or so and we’ve really enjoyed it. That’s cool to know that they’re also in Australia. Seems like they’re really upending the traditional grocery stores.

  2. We tend to use video watching from swag bucks to get gift cards every so often to pay for the occasional coffee or donut. Beyond that I tend to stick to the eat leftovers at lunch stage. I might check out the discount gift card option though for the once every 2 weeks date night sans kids.

    The biggest thing we do for groceries is buy the veggies from a farmers market and the rest from a grocery store, infinitely cheaper. Now that my wife is a stay at home mom I do expect there might be more coupon info and searching for cheaper grocery stores.
    Full Time Finance recently posted…Market Reaction and OverreactionMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing!!! I’m not as familiar with swagbucks so I’ll definitely need to check it out.

      Additionally, we definitely need to start checking out the farmers markets.

      Thanks for the suggestions!!!

    • Aldi does an incredible job. I think I read that they only have two employees work a store at a time. I

      On top that I heard that a lot of items can be wheeled in on a pallet like eggs or milk and switched out in a matter of seconds.

      It’s that German efficiency!!!

  3. Sounds like you guys really have this down to a science!

    Matt @ Optimize Your Life is spot on. We’ve made Aldi the biggest chunk of your grocery shopping. That alone cuts a grocery bill down tremendously. And the food is actually just as good or better in some cases. If we run into something we don’t like from there, we get it elsewhere, but that’s been pretty rare.

    We tried BJs and Costco to save money and although it helps us to buy in bulk, I really have no idea how much (if any) savings it’s really giving me. We’re probably going to let our membership run out this year and just stick with Aldi.

    — Jim
    Jim @ Route To Retire recently posted…Bringing the Fun Back to the WorkplaceMy Profile

    • Yep, my wife is 100% Iranian both her parents were born there. She learned from her Mom how to cook and my wife definitely soaked it all up. It’s wonderful!!!

      My wife hasn’t used any apps for coupons, do you suggest any?

      • Unfortunately not. When I shop I typically just target produce that’s on sale.

        You definitely put me in the mood for kebabs btw! Might grab some later haha!

  4. Neither my wife nor I like eating left overs for days in a row. We cook more often and in smaller quantity so that we consume what is cooked in 1-2 days.

    As for groceries, we use a lot of apps to save on groceries. Just yesterday, I visited ALDI, about ~5 miles from home. Wow, it is much cheaper compared to other stores.

    I like to eat out as well. I am right there with you brother :). That is a budgeted break for me.

    We do buy discount gift cards – we haven’t done enough of it though. There is certainly more opportunity to save here.
    Michael recently posted…Why You Should Be Thinking About Retirement as a MillennialMy Profile

    • It’s amazing how much cheaper Aldi is than all the other grocery stores. I think I read that they supply their stores with 90% of store brand goods, which really helps cut down the price.

      Glad to know I’m not the only one that enjoys a meals out. Like I said though, I don’t feel nearly as guilty since I pay a lot with gift cards 🙂

  5. Your wife sounds a lot like mine. I thought I was thrifty, until I met her. We don’t really do couponing anymore as we found some local buying groups that allow us to get bargains. Plus we know when they run seasonal specialties & will wait to make purchases until those items go on sale.
    Josh recently posted…Financial Thoughts on the 2016 ElectionMy Profile

    • That’s really smart to get into a local buying group. I’ve heard some really amazing things about joining. We will definitely need to check to see if there any are good ones available.

    • Aldi is AMAZING. When I am forced to go to other grocery stores I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the number of selections. I definitely love how simple Aldi is. Thanks for sharing!!!

  6. We don’t really do couponing and I’ve never gone for discounted gift cards either.

    Most of our meat comes from our butcher- one of the ‘non-negotiables’ in our first budget was good quality meat. Some things (like sausages) are more expensive, although less unhealthy, whereas other are about the same. Sometimes it works out cheaper if there’s a deal on too.

    I try to batch cook bolognaise and stew, so we almost always have a lazy option in the freezer- that saves on eating out or ordering a takeaway when we’re tired.
    Sarah @tortoisehappy.com recently posted…How to not be skint anymoreMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing your perspective. We unfortunately don’t have a butcher close to our house otherwise we would definitely consider getting meat directly from the butcher. Hopefully one opens up close by in the next couple of years. I would definitely like the option.

  7. Oh I really like the Iranian food. My brother in law is from Iran. And I still remember the ghormeh sabzi I eat years back 🙂

    As to grocery shopping. We take out a vast amount of money every month which is our spending budget. We try to buy everything within this budget. We don’t use coupons. But do shop at the more cheaper stores (except for meat) to save some money.
    Divnomics recently posted…How we ended up with not buying AmerisourceBergen ($ABC)My Profile

  8. I think your wife and I would get along nicely! 🙂 I shop for groceries exactly the same way as she does (I don’t do any coupons unless they are handed to me in the store). I go through the weekly ads and pick out the rock bottom sales and stock up on the sale items. I shop Aldi once or twice a month. In fact, I bought a cart full of groceries today at Aldi for a little over $50. You just can’t go wrong there. 3 out of the 4 of us eat leftovers for lunch (my son gets school lunch), so we save there too. I do like to go out to eat as a treat now and then, though!
    Amanda @ centsiblyrich recently posted…5 Things I Am Tired of Hearing About MoneyMy Profile

    • My wife is obsessed with Aldi and the just remodeled the store so she loves it even more.

      When we talk to our friends nobody has ever even stepped inside Aldi but it seems like Aldi is well known in the PF community.

      Thanks for sharing!!!

  9. Food is a tricky area. I think we should be more cautious of the food we put in our bodies. Americans spend the least amount on food than any other country. Part of that is due to our resources and food production. But as the increasing obesity rates will show you, Americans have begun to care more about quantity than quality.

    That said, you don’t have to buy everything organic, and there are ways to eat healthy without breaking the bank. You’ve already solved half the problem by cooking at home instead of eating out. Also, your wife is very smart by tailoring your meal plans and grocery list to the deals for that week. That will save you a bunch!
    Go Finance Yourself! recently posted…Living on a Tight Budget: Sacrifice the Short-Term for Long-Term SuccessMy Profile

    • My wife and you think a lot. Before I met her I didn’t think too much about nutrition. However, she is the queen of nutrition.

      She buys organic food when it makes sense. She is big into grass fed beef and some other things that are currently eluding me.

      On top of that since my wife is the primary cook in the house, my son hasn’t had any processed food including sugar.

      While it’s not the cheapest like you said, it’s definitely not as expensive as some people think.

      Thanks for sharing!!!

  10. This is one area that I need to really clamp down on. Like (the previous) you, I easily spend $500+ on food. It’s insane. Most of the time It’s because I’m going out to eat, which I do because I’m too lazy to cook for myself. I really don’t like cooking that much (why spend an hour making something that you’ll eat in 5 minutes?). But the health benefits of eating a home cooked meal, let alone the savings, should be enough for anyone to seriously consider it. And yet every month I fail to make any kind of meaningful dent in this expense, lol! Consider yourself lucky that you have such an incredible wife that knows how to cook! Wish I had one 😉
    Andre – GoGoAssets recently posted…Early Retirement: My Progress UpdateMy Profile

    • You are definitely right. I eat so much healthier now that I’m married. If I was still on my own if I didn’t want to go out to get food I’d cook popcorn for dinner. I was definitely not the model of health. With that said I still have a ways to go but I’m eating much better 🙂

  11. I’ve started playing with the coupons, but mostly we do well eating at home, limiting our grocery trips and shopping Aldi/House Brands.

    And it’s great to marry someone who’s money conscious. I thought I did pretty well, but 10 years with Jon has shown me that I was really good at wasting money within my means rather than saving.
    Emily Jividen recently posted…State of the Blog: October 2016My Profile

  12. Great job on the food savings! Although my wife and I are pretty thrifty, we tend to eat out more often than not. We don’t mind eating leftovers, so those meals actually last for the next 2-3 days. When we do go grocery shopping, my wife is great at finding deals and coupons, much like yours. It also helps that we both don’t mind buying store brand items instead of brand name stuff.

    • I tried to convince my wife one day that my taste buds could tell the difference. She decided to test me and I failed miserably. Needless to say, we don’t buy many store brands anymore 🙂

  13. Way to give your wife some love! I like her style. We cut some coupons here and there and do a pretty good job on the grocery savings. It helps to know what store to go to as well. I will say that the restaurant expense bill for the month got really out of control while I was on vacation. Kind of embarrassed about that one but will get things back on track now. Take care!
    Mr Defined Sight recently posted…Faith in Human Decency Restored!My Profile

    • Oh man, don’t even get me started on vacation. I think that’s one of the reasons we really like to go on cruises. That way we can overeat and not think about restaurant expenses. It’s also nice waking up in a new location 🙂

  14. You are one lucky guy 🙂 Also Iranian food is pretty awesome, especially those Kebabs and Saffron rice. BTW, my wife is originally from Japan, so I get to eat lots of Japanese food at home which is pretty good for my health. We hardly ever eat out.

    Regarding coupons, nowadays many stores have mobile apps that makes finding coupons/deals easy. I have been using Target’s Cart app which is pretty cool as I can scan an item and see if there is a couple for it.

    • Sounds like you get to eat amazing food too 🙂

      I haven’t looked too much into the coupons, especially target’s but I will definitely need to look into that.

      Thanks for sharing!!!

  15. I overlooked that I could be using discounted gift cards to save a little money. That’s one more discount website I will be visiting to plan out my meals, thanks for sharing!

    I agree so much that ALDI beats out the competition. I spent $75 on food for these past 2 weeks and it’s all thanks to ALDI’s. On top of that, I’ve bought healthy food from them. I can’t recommend ALDI enough, they’re my go-to grocery store, no matter what state I’m in!
    Finance Solver recently posted…Environment Matters Most to Career SuccessMy Profile

  16. I have a credit card that gives 5% cash back on grocery stores. We often buy generic brands and we usually shop the sales. I like going to Target and Aldi’s…and for veggies/fruits/meat…Asian supermarkets have great deals.

  17. Your wife sounds friggen awesome 🙂 My wife kinda did the same for me, opened up a world of Khmer cooking (she’s of Cambodian descent). Now I find myself asking constantly “Can we have kaw sach chrouk for dinner” among other dishes haha!
    MrSLM recently posted…Financial Update – October 2016My Profile

    • That’s awesome. It’s amazing how much my eyes were opened to middle eastern food when my wife started to cook it for me.

      Thanks for sharing your experience with Khmer cooking. My mouth is watering 🙂

  18. For me, I went from spending $75 -100/week on average to $160/month! I did this by using a shopping list, meal planning and rotating my grocery stores. I love my organic grocery store (Sprouts) here in Texas, but it is not always budget friendly. So in addition to Sprouts, I also visit my local hispanic supermarket for my fresh fruits and vegetables!

    • A shopping list is so crucial to staying on budget. Before I met my wife I easily went over my allotted budget with stupid purchases. Now we are much more disciplined.

      Thanks for sharing!!!

  19. Aldi tends to be a winner here in Australia too! Coupons are big here though unless I’m missing something. Sounds like you’ve got a great partner in crime! Luke.

  20. I don’t like to eat out too much because I like to know what is in my food, and I like a lot of fruits and veggies. But my husband and I do still eat out a few times a week. Since I live such a simple lifestyle, I am able to spend more on groceries. I’m not a shoe shopper, but I do love going to the local co-ops, health food stores and farmers markets without having a list and a budget.

    If you want to save even more money, try a little foraging. Dandelion and Plantain are found in every yard and make excellent salad greens and they are much more nutritious than most food at the grocery store that has been sitting on the shelf for awhile. Plus, foraging is a free activity that is pretty darn fun and gets people outside.
    Primal Prosperity recently posted…Clearing the ChaosMy Profile

    • Foraging is a great idea. My wife has done it before but I am sometimes a little apprehensive that I’ll pick poison berries but I’m sure that’s slightly overblown. Thanks for the great tips!!!

  21. Sweetest husband ever! 🙂 I love that you have praised her so much! I would love to see some of these Iranian recipes posted. Sounds awesome!!

    I too am a big ALDI fan. I have been going there for the past year…ever since I started tracking my spending. Food costs are way down and I haven’t really missed much. If we are planning to make fish I might go to whole foods but other than that it’s ALDI. 🙂
    Miss Mazuma recently posted…A Lesson in Judgement From My First Hater…kind of.My Profile

    • YES YES YES!!!

      She definitely needs to share her recipes. I tell her all the time how much people would enjoy seeing them. But she doesn’t think they’re super special since she grew up with them.

      But believe me they are AMAZING.

      My wife is like you in that she likes to get her grass-fed/wild caught meats from whole foods 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing!!!

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