How to Save Money on Groceries During a Pandemic

As many have noticed, grocery shopping has changed dramatically in the past three months. Prices have risen at least ten percent, there are still limits on quantities, and there are fewer super-low-priced specials.

If your budget is being stretched to the limit, then you are certainly not alone. Mine is, too.

The honest truth is, I drew money out of our emergency fund to stock my pantry about three months ago, when this all began. Ever since then, I’ve been on high alert, trying to assess the damage and figure out how in the world I’m going to right-size our grocery expenses before it takes a major chunk out of our available money, derailing our future goals.

Keeping your grocery budget in line is now even more challenging. So, I have fallen back on five tried and true methods for saving money and still feeding my hungry family.

I’ve been here before. When we were raising four children on a less-than-average income and saving every penny to pay cash for a home, I developed a five-pronged strategy for saving money on groceries.

I explain each of the five strategies in-depth and show you examples in this video on our YouTube channel.

Focus on the basics

When we were saving to purchase our home with cash, this is one of the methods I used in lowering our grocery bills. After shopping, I analyzed each item, looking for areas which could be cut back.

For instance, chips and snacks hit the “don’t buy” list immediately. However, an overabundance of any processed food product will ultimately raise your grocery bills.

Using single ingredient items, like creating marinara sauce from canned crushed tomatoes, rather than using a jar of pasta sauce will not only allow you to reduce sodium, fat, and additives in your diet, it will also save you money.

A 25 pound bag of flour can be purchased from SAMS for just over $6.00. This allows you to bake a lot of bread, tortillas, biscuits, and muffins for, literally, pennies.

Meat purchases are currently limited. Being vegan, I’m honestly unaware of the regular price of any meat. However, whether you’re vegan or not, this is a great time to focus on plant based sources of protein. Not only are they very inexpensive, they also contain a boatload of fiber, making them great for supporting both your health and your pocketbook.

Strategically Buy the Limit

You notice that I prefaced this section with the word “strategically”. Stores have placed limits on certain products due to problems with the supply chain. However, those limits are generally not on per type of product, they are specific to each item.

For instance, purchasing 4 cans of crushed tomatoes, 4 cans of diced tomatoes, and 4 cans of tomato sauce, still follows the guidelines and still gives you plenty of versatility in planning your weekly menu.

Keep the same strategy in mind for each area of the store with limits.

Know What You Have on Hand

It is absolutely critical that you fill out a pantry and freezer inventory on a regular basis. You will inevitably either purchase products that you don’t need or forget much-needed items if you don’t have an up-to-date list of available food items.

Read my step-by-step pantry inventory guide or check out the YouTube version .

Menu Plan

Once a week, the 15 year old sous chef and I consult my inventory sheets and plan what we are going to cook that week.

Regular menu planning is an important part of saving money at the store every month. It insures that you use up fresh produce before it rots, allows you to incorporate pantry and freezer ingredients, and keeps you from going to the grocery store as often

Post your menu plan in a prominent place, like the refrigerator, so that the entire family can easily see what’s for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Bulk Cook

If you’ve never bulk-cooked, it isn’t as difficult as you might imagine. You don’t need to commit to creating an entire month’s (or week’s) worth of dishes in one, long cooking session.

It can be as easy a carving out 2-3 hours and making a double-batch of four of your favorite recipes. This alone, will put you well ahead in the menu-planning game, keeping you out of the grocery store and saving you both time and money.

Ultimately, bulk cooking allows you to plan portions, shop less often, and save time in the kitchen.

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