You can save thousands of dollars a year on groceries using the Cook for Good system. Here’s how to cut your food budget, save money on food, and still love what you eat.
How much can you save on groceries?
When I wrote Wildly Affordable Organic, I compared the cost of my two green and thrifty meal plans to ones the USDA uses to track changing food costs. Wowser! You could:
- Save $6,5000 a year using my green plan compared to the USDA “liberal” plan
- Save over $9,000 a year using my thrifty plan compared to the USDA “liberal” plan
- Save over $760 a year or $2.08 a day compared to the North Carolina SNAP (food-stamp) benefit
(I put “liberal” in quotes because I would call it the “extravagant” plan. Seriously, why didn’t President Obama have this plan renamed?)
You can save even more! I do!
These prices show worst-case scenarios—with no coupons, membership clubs, stocking up on sale items, or homegrown vegetables. The prices even include extra food in case you can’t follow all my super-thrifty tips, like making pumpkin puree from your Halloween pumpkin.
Food prices have gone up a lot since then, but the core ingredients of Cook for Good menus have gone up less than food that requires more energy to produce, such as meat and processed foods. So clip a few coupons, stock up during sales, buy ice-cream peaches, and feed your Stoup to rack up even more savings.
My Top 6 Ways to Save Money on Food
1. Eat at home instead of going out
Almost anything you cook yourself will be far cheaper than anything you can get at a restaurant, even a fast-food restaurant. You’ll see the savings immediately if you compare the price of ingredients to a restaurant bill. Over time, eating healthy home-cooked food will mean lower medical bills and less misery compared to eating out. You’ll cook with less fat, salt, and sugar than restaurant do. You’ll probably use more organic ingredients and more vegetables, fruit, and whole grains.
2. Cook from scratch
Almost anything you cook from scratch will cost less and be healthier than processed, canned, or frozen versions of the same food. In fact, it will be better than most restaurant food. Homemade meals are cheaper, healthier, tastier, and better for the planet. Sometimes I think more people “don’t like vegetables” because they’ve never experienced the joy of eating well-seasoned, fresh vegetables cooked with love.
Saving money by cooking at home brings other pleasures too: the toothsome texture of home-cooked dried beans, the aroma of baking bread, and the fun of licking the beater after you make chocolate frosting.
3. Eat plants
Why pay for animals to chew your food for you? Eat the corn, not the cow. You can make three organic flaxseed “eggs” for the cost of one organic chicken egg. Both will bind your cakes or burgers together just fine. Use aquafaba — the broth from cooking beans — in place of egg whites for meringues or eggs in baked goods.