A typical article on how to save money on food will mention coupon shopping, maybe stocking up during sales, and buying generic brands. The following is about some of the lesser known basic strategies for spending less.
Alternatives to the Usual Food Purchases
Would you like to eat all the same things you currently do throughout the year and even add more variety, while spending less money on your groceries? You can if you're willing to enjoy whatever is on sale at the moment instead of catering to the fleeting demands of your taste buds and temporary desires.
You might enjoy oranges, strawberries, and apples for example, and normally buy whichever sounds good at the moment you are shopping. However, they each go on sale when in season, sometimes for as much as 70% less than they cost off-season. Now suppose that you eat oranges when they are cheap, then buy strawberries when they go on sale, and do the same with apples. You still get all the variety you normally do, don't you?
However, you might pay an average of 50% less for your fruit throughout the year. Now add kiwi fruit or other fruits and vegetables as they become plentiful and cheap. You get even more variety. You get the best products as well, because these foods usually go on sale when they are at the peak of the season and sitting around for the least amount of time.
Apply this strategy in restaurants too. Look at the specials which are offered before you look at anything else on the menu. You certainly get variety in this way, and save money on the food you eat. There is no need to see this as denying your desires, since you'll get to eat everything you like and get more variety. Each meal or grocery purchase just becomes an enjoyable surprise.
Eat First, Then Shop
It's one of the most important tips on how to save money on food. My "research" into this (having tried it both ways myself) shows that we buy as much as 30% more at the grocery store if we are hungry while we shop. And if we have more food in the house we eat more - that's especially true of the snacks we load up on when shopping on an empty stomach. This then is a tip for healthier eating as well as a way to save money on groceries. Always eat before you go.
If you are a bit hungry it helps to have list and stick to it. But make an exception when you find those great sales on foods you would normally buy anyhow.
Eat Less Spend Less
No, you don't need to actually go hungry as a way to save money on food, nor eat less over-all. On the other hand, the things an average person eats vary tremendously in price, right? So why not eat less of those things that cost the most and maybe aren't so healthy, and replace them with more of the healthier cheaper alternatives? You can do this at home and when you eat at restaurants.
I might as well have titled this section "Eat More Spend Less," because one of the easiest ways to cut your consumption of expensive foods is to eat more of the foods that costs less. Fill up on a delicious and healthy cheap dishes like seasoned rice and beans, and you won't have room for expensive and unhealthy deserts or snacks. If you are in a Mexican restaurant, for example, you could fill up on the free chips and salsa and then just order a delicious appetizer in place of a full meal.