Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Frugal Workshop Podcast #3: Part 1 Saving Money on Food

Another podcast went live on Monday, but I didn't get the opportunity to post it yesterday, so here it is today. I hope you enjoy it.

Good morning and welcome to the third podcast of the Frugal Workshop blog. I'm your host, Belinda Richardson and I want to welcome you and all of my readers from Frugal Workshop. I'm so glad you decided to join us.

Today we’re going to be talking about saving money on food, so let’s get started. 

Sometimes people find managing the kitchen and meal planning to be a big challenge. Coming home after a long day of work and going into the kitchen to prepare the family dinner is not something people always have the time or energy to accomplish. 

Because of this many people have come to depend on fast food, restaurants, and convenience foods to deal with this challenge in order to feed their families. Convenience foods like inexpensive $5 pizzas help to make mealtimes easier, but oftentimes those convenience foods cost more money than food prepared at home.

Families who rely on these foods too often find themselves with financial problems as a result of eating out too much.

Do you find that you are spending a lot of money every week or each month by eating out or getting food and bringing it home? The average American household in the U.S. spends about $3,365 per year eating outside of the home according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

There are all sorts of reasons why people enjoy eating out at restaurants and I enjoy eating out as much as the next person. However, if you are eating out for convenience's sake the majority of the time, you would definitely save money by cooking at home. 

Grocery shopping is one area of the family budget where you can save a tremendous amount of money. In this podcast, I will examine several areas that can save you money and restore some savings to your family budget.

Using resources wisely (time, money, food) is one area of my life that is important to me. Keeping a well-stocked pantry and meal planning are important tools towards this goal. Having meals planned out has always made my life so much easier during the times I’ve utilized this tool. 

Now, I do have days where I forget to take something out of the freezer or times when it seems like I am only able to plan meals on the spur of the moment. But the times when I have been organized in my meal planning have been the times when I felt the most at peace with myself, which in turn makes my household run smoother.

Planning is the key to saving money on your grocery budget. And you need to prepare yourself before you go shopping. 

Take inventory of what you already have on hand and then make a list of as many meals you can make with that food.  It could be that you have enough food at home to where you might not even have to go grocery shopping. Wouldn’t that be great?

Having an inventory of what I have in my pantry helps me a great deal by knowing what foods I actually have on hand and then using that knowledge in planning meals using those foods, which stretches my resources further. 

By inventorying what I have on hand, I can see several different meals I can make that I hadn't thought of making before I inventoried my supplies. That will help me save money by using up our inventory. 

I continue this practice all month long, creating meals from my inventory, scouring cookbooks and Internet resources, to find ways to create meals out of what I have on hand.

Amy Dacyczyn describes The Pantry Principle in her book, The Complete Tightwad Gazette, which she said she first learned about in a book written by Barbara Salsbury and Cheri Loveless called Cut Your Food Bill in Half.

 Amy states that the idea of planning meals thirty days in advance is not the most frugal way to go about planning menus for your family. She thinks that planning meals in advance is backward and that stick-to-your-list thinking does not allow an individual to take advantage of unadvertised deals.

The basic idea behind The Pantry Principle is to stockpile your pantry with food that you are able to purchase at the lowest possible price. The purpose of grocery shopping then becomes a trip to replenish your pantry, and not a trip to purchase specific ingredients for specific meals, which usually ends up costing you more money. 

Amy claims that many families do not take the concept far enough to save the maximum amount of their money.

Barbara Salsbury, who invented the Pantry Principle, has a new book titled ,”Beating The High Cost of Eating”. If you’re interested in learning more about her ideas and concepts this book is much more affordable than her older book. 

The next step you need to do is to utilize the grocery store ads and see what they have on sale this week. 

Wednesday is the day our newspaper has the grocery store sales flyers in them, so that’s the day I can go online and peruse the sale ads and make a note of what is on sale and if I need anything I add it to my list. 

Nowadays Walmart along with some other stores have their prices posted online, so it is easier than ever to compare prices between stores. 

One way we save money on food is by shopping at discount grocers such as Save-A-Lot, Aldi, and The Dollar Tree. These will definitely save you money over big name grocery stores. Just the other day I found Secret deodorant at The Dollar Tree for $1.00 whereas I normally pay $1.96 for my favorite brand. These types of stores can definitely save you money. 

Another place people can save money is by shopping at warehouse clubs. Several people I know shop at warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club in order to save money. My friend Anna pays for her membership just with the savings they receive on medicine. 

Another place to shop and save money are salvage stores. If you are fortunate to have a salvage grocery store in your area be sure to shop there for inexpensive sources of food. We are fortunate enough to have United Grocery Outlets or UGO in our area. 

Salvage stores are not like regular grocery stores that get new inventory each week, but rather sell items that traditional grocery stores won't sell any longer. They can be hit or miss, but we have found some great deals at our local one. 

Another way to save money on food is by looking for sources of free food. We have a friend who gives us free food from time to time. And we’ve had many gardening friends who share fresh produce with us.  Some people volunteer at an event and are able to take some free food home afterwards. Free food sometimes shows up at work events as well. I know last school year I received a free lunch from Chick-Fil-A while subbing. 

Check out the website Falling ( to find areas in your part of the world that have free food for forging. It’s a wonderful concept to rescue this food and use it to feed people. 

Let’s not forget the Crash & Burn section of your grocery store. Do you check out the dented can section of the grocery stores where you shop? There are usually good deals to be found there. I always visit these areas in our local grocery stores. I have found some of my best bargains in the Crash & Burn section. 

Avoiding Food Waste ~When food reaches the use by or sell by date it doesn't mean it needs to be thrown away. The dates found on food items are suggestions made by food companies to ensure peak quality and do not indicate food safety. 

Food manufacturers make more money when consumers  toss food they think has gone bad. Some people discard food when it's reached this date, but the truth is many foods can be safely consumed after these dates. For example, I don’t toss out buttermilk as it is good long after the use by date has passed.

We’ve already mentioned that meal planning, using your inventory of food, will be an important tool to help you to save money. If you have trouble coming up with meal ideas there are plenty of websites to help you get meal ideas on the food you have at home.

Websites such as Supercook ( and My Fridge ( allow you to enter the ingredients you have on hand and will give you meal ideas for that food. 

Don’t forget to include a meatless meal or two in your menus as they will save you money as well. 

Using Coupons

We are unable to get home delivery of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, so our use of coupons is practically non-existent at this time, which was not always the case.  Your mileage may vary on this method of savings. 

Name Brands versus Store Brand

Try not to be name brand loyal. Many times, the companies who make the name brand foods also manufacture the store brand foods. And the store brand products cost a lot less than name brand, although that may not always be the case, so check your prices. 

If you are brand name loyal, just buy one or two store brand products a week and try them on your family. If your family likes them, you will save money by buying that item. If your family ends up not liking the store brand product, switch back and when a sale comes up on that product, stock up! 

Price Book

Have you ever been shopping and happen across a sale and think, is this really a good price? This is where a price book comes in handy. It’s a small notebook that you use to keep track of the lowest prices on items that you buy.

You will find that as time goes by and you familiarize yourself with prices that a price book is not necessary, but it can be a very useful tool for those who are just beginning to learn how to save money on food.

Stocking Up

When I find an item on sale at a price that I cannot beat, I usually stock up. Sales tend to run in cycles, and that helps me to determine how much to buy. But this is not always the case and it helps to know your stuff. When you find a good sale on a product that you use, stock up on it.

Using the Freezer

Our freezer has been a great asset to us in saving money. We stock up on meats, sugar, flour, and vegetables when they go on sale, and freeze them for later use. For example, when we find markdowns on meat we will buy as much of it as we can afford and store in our freezer. If it comes in large packages I’ll bring it home and package it into smaller packs and stack it into the freezer to be used later. Consider buying a separate freezer when you can find it on sale, It is a very good investment.

Clean the Kitchen Every Evening

It will be much easier for you to go into your kitchen and make dinner for your family if the kitchen is already clean. It is harder for me to motivate myself to get in there and cook dinner if the kitchen is a mess. I would rather go out and eat if the kitchen is messy and so that defeats the purpose of saving money by cooking at home. It is a little known fact that a person will save more money and eat healthier when they cook meals at home.

In Conclusion

I hope that I have given you plenty of ideas to save money on food. There are many more ideas that I have not even mentioned here and as you begin your journey of saving money in the kitchen, I hope you find some new ideas that can help you save a bunch of money. I hope that my article has been helpful to you and thank you for taking the time to read it.

Next week we will have Part 2 of this podcast as I found this topic to long to discuss in one week. 

Beating the High Cost of Eating: The Essential Guide to Supermarket Survival by Barbara Salsbury

If you would like to discuss something I've spoken about on this podcast please feel free to DM me on Instagram. My handle is @frugalworkshop. Or you can always comment on the Frugal Workshop blog or email me at


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 

Beating the High Cost of Eating: The Essential Guide to Supermarket Survival by Barbara Salsbury

~ Living within our Means ~


  1. Wonderful, helpful advice. Believe I read Barbara Salsbury's book back when, amd I will now go to links you gave us. Thanks for your labor to help.
    -memphis metro

    1. Thank you, Anna. You're very welcome. I'm always glad to help out. :) :)

  2. Great post! I need to get serious about stocking my pantry again. Winter will be here soon!

    1. Thank you, Penny. Yes, it's that time of year to get ready for winter for sure.

  3. Thank you for sharing.


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