I want to share with you some of the things I do to save money on food. I want to eat as healthy as I can, so I want a lot of fresh products grown in Austria or Europe. Saving money on food does not mean you need to eat frozen pizza and pasta every day. Let´s take a look how we can get as much as we can for our money.
1. Make a meal plan
I try to plan my meals so I don´t waste any food on the end of the week. I use what I have hiding deep in my kitchen cupboards before I go shopping. Sometimes there is enough pasta, potatoes, rice, beans … for the whole week of meals, all I need to buy is some fresh veggies and fruits.
2. Know how much things costs and where to get them for free
I prefer to buy beans, oats, pasta, in bulk and my veggies & fruits on a local Eurogast shop (wholesale shop for restaurants and catering). I can shop there totally plastic free and prices for local veggies & fruits are around 30% cheaper than other shops in the area. Unfortunately, we don´t have a good farmers market in the area, and the only one that exists in on Friday morning. I guess there is a lot of stay-at-home housewives in the area.
I always compare prices for the items I purchase regularly. Since I stopped all my spam mail I check all catalogs online. Great apps for saving money are wogibtswas.at (for Austria) or ibotta.com (USA) and other apps certain shops offer. You can also use discount coupons from your phone. So no need to print or use any catalogs. On the end, I don´t mind going to a few shops for different products.
Check if your town has a wholesale shop/warehouse where you can get your products cheaper. Connect with local farmers or fruit shops. They will be happy to sell or even give you ripe or damaged fruit that people don´t want. Some people still think fruit has to be hard as a rock, in perfect shape and colors to be worth buying.:) Too much food is wasted every day because of that.
Well if you want you can even go skipping or dumpster diving. That means visiting shops after closing time and checking their dumpsters. You will be surprised how much food is in there. But only take what is safe to eat. Usually they throw it out in a plastic bags anyways, so everything is protected from trash in the dumpster and has been there for less than an hour or two.
Roughly one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tons — gets lost or wasted.
So please try not to waste any food. If I have food left I just freeze it, blend it into soup, jar it, dry it, or even give it away… anything else than throwing it away. But if there is nothing I can do to save it, then I compost it. Good way to use up all the peels from veggies like onions, carrots, garlic, celery is to collect them and freeze them. I use them to make my own soup broth.
Check if the shop has a discount area where they offer damaged products, or super ripe veggies and fruits (that I love for smoothies) or some products that are close to expiration (we all know they don´t get bad on exactly that day). You can get those products with a big discount and freeze them. But buy only as much you can use, because new products will go on sale again.
Know also when it´s best to buy certain stuff. Sales are seasonal – groceries are cheaper when products are in season. We know that about veggies and fruits, but it also goes for other products. For instance, canned soups will be cheaper in fall and winter than summer. Ketchup, sauces are summer bbq products, so if you use them, it´s best to buy more of them in summer. So buy what you need when it´s on sale.
3. Don´t waste your money on …
Snacks. What I really want to do even more is to stop buying any snacks – this way I eat healthier, avoid plastic packaging and save money.
I avoid eating out, or at least limit it. Eating out is not cheap, at least in Austria and other European countries. So I try not to eat out in my hometown. Of course, pizza now and then makes my day :) But I don´t want to be cheap when I travel. Because experiencing new good vegan food in a new city is just the best.
Things you can make at home. I make my own bread, oat milk, hummus, granola, spreads and I want to learn to make as many things as possible. We get a lot of home-made jams & juices from our moms :)
4. Bring your lunch to work/school
I usually make a salad or bring anything that might be left from dinner. If possible I always make bigger dinner so I have lunch for next day. So my lunch probably costs me 2€ or less. A meal at work would cost me 5€ and a meal in the restaurant around 10€ and they are less healthy than what I make for myself. Sorry Austrians, but I´m just not used to so much oil and salt.
Usually, my lunch is in a bigger glas container, but here are some examples. :)
Oats with mango
Chickpeas salad with tofu and tomatoes
5. Coffee and tea
I stopped buying takeaway coffee. I just make it at home before we go on a trip or to work. When it comes to hiking or snowboarding I always make my own tea and snacks.
It´s totally worth buying a reusable coffee mug and thermos that you can always carry with you. Some coffee shops will even offer you a discount if you bring your own mug, if you feel like getting a coffee on the go. Less plastic, more money.
So how much do I spend on food
I would spend around 150-200€ per month/40-50€ per week for 2 people. Toilet paper, washing powder and other household products are included. I mostly use baking soda and vinegar for cleaning anyways.
I really don´t know how much other people spend, but compared to info I found online we are doing pretty well. Let me know.
I just know we eat a lot and I don´t want to buy low-quality food, or food packed in plastic and we still manage to stay on a good budget. I will share my basic vegan shopping list with you in one of the upcoming posts.
Most important thing is to eat well and cautiously.
Happy World Vegan Day!
If you are interested in other ways to save money you can read the first part of How to stop spending and start saving.