If you want to save money on groceries, there are some obvious things you can do, like using coupons or shopping the sales. The only problem is that both of those things take up valuable time, and sometimes that’s time we just don’t have.
But what if I told you there’s an easier trick to cutting down your grocery bill that requires virtually no extra time on your part? That’s right, to start saving money on your family’s groceries, all you need to do is make a few simple food swaps.
There are a lot of foods that we buy without ever thinking about an alternative, but sometimes there are definitely better (and much cheaper) choices. Try these 20 easy swaps to save you money on groceries, and see for yourself!
20 Easy Swaps to Save You Money on Groceries
1. Opt for boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts. Chicken thighs can be swapped for chicken breasts in virtually any recipe and typically cost significantly less per pound.
2. Buy turkey or chicken instead of beef. Often beef costs more per pound than chicken or turkey, so try swapping out one for the other in one meal each week.
3. Try tofu instead of meat in a stir fry. With a good sauce, tofu can be just as flavorful as meat and at a fraction of the cost.
4. Buy frozen fish versus from fish the seafood counter. You can often get wild-caught fish much cheaper frozen than fresh at the counter.
5. Purchase whole heads of lettuce instead of bagged, pre-washed lettuce. I love the convenience of pre-cut and pre-washed lettuce, but it’s really not much extra work to wash and chop a head of lettuce at home, and it’s definitely cheaper.
6. Use green bell peppers instead of red bell peppers. For some recipes, you need red peppers, but when you’re just throwing together a salad or a stir fry, opt for the green peppers which are equally nutritious and almost always cheaper than their red counterparts.
7. Buy whole carrots instead of baby carrots. Whole carrots are cheaper per ounce than baby carrots, so try chopping the large carrots at home rather than buying them pre-cut.
8. Buy conventional instead of organic produce, or buy at the farmer’s market where it may be grown organically without the price tag. You don’t need to feel guilty about buying conventional produce! But if that’s what your family prefers, try shopping for it at the farmer’s market. Local farmers often use organic growing practices without paying to have their farm “certified” as organic, and they can typically offer you the fresh produce for a better price than your regular grocery store.
9. Consider frozen fruits and veggies instead of fresh, especially when the fresh aren’t in season. Contrary to popular belief, frozen fruits and veggies are often fresher than the stuff in the produce aisle because they’re frozen right after being picked. So, when your favorite berries, corn, or green beans aren’t in season, purchase them for less money from the frozen aisle instead.
Grains and Cereals
10. Buy a bag of brown rice instead of pre-cooked rice. The microwavable rice packets are awesome to have in a pinch, but when you can, try buying the plain bag of brown rice for less money. You can even make a large batch and freeze it for future meals.
11. Opt for quick oats or steel cut oats instead of instant oatmeal. Packets of instant oatmeal are way more expensive than a plain container of oats and have a lot less sugar too. Overnight oats and slow cooker oatmeal are really easy alternatives.
12. Use rice or millet instead of quinoa. If you haven’t noticed, some grains are more expensive than others. While I love quinoa and some of those pricier whole grains, you’ll save some money if you mix things up with rice or millet rather than using the more expensive grains exclusively.
13. Make homemade granola instead of buying store-bought granola or cereal. Have you noticed how expensive granola and some of those “healthier” cereals are? You can make a big batch of your own homemade granola, which will be just as healthy and delicious for a fraction of the price.
14. Purchase the large 32 oz containers of yogurt topped instead of individual yogurt cups. Large containers of yogurt are definitely cheaper per ounce than the small 6 or 8 oz containers. They typically only come in flavors like plain and vanilla, but you can easily add flavor by topping your yogurt with honey, fruit, jam, or granola. You can even portion it into containers so it’s ready to grab-and-go during the week.
15. Buy blocks of cheese versus pre-shredded cheese or cheese sticks. Often the whole blocks of cheese cost less per ounce than the bags of pre-shredded cheese or cheese sticks. Simply shred the block at home, or cut it into snack size squares as an alternative to cheese sticks.
Other Easy Swaps
16. Buy dry beans instead of canned beans. Bags of dry beans are always cheaper than the cans and are super easy to make yourself with just a little extra time.
17. Pop your own popcorn. If you have an air popper or know how to pop popcorn on the stovetop, you can buy the bags of kernels and add your own butter and salt as a cheap alternative to microwave popcorn.
18. Make your own salad dressing rather than buying bottled dressing. Making your own salad dressing is super easy and honestly tastes better than the store-bought stuff. It’s just an added bonus that making it yourself is cheaper too.
19. Choose nuts and dried fruit from the bulk bins instead of buying them pre-packaged. The prices of those small containers or 100 calorie packs of nuts and seeds are typically marked way up. You can get the exact same stuff in the bulk bins at your grocery store or co-op for a fraction of the price. The same goes for trail mix and dried fruits.
20. Drink water flavored with lemon or lime instead of buying soda or bottled water. You’re paying for packaging (and in the case of soda, some sugary syrup) when it comes to bottled beverages. Get yourself a reusable water bottle, and try adding fruit or cucumber to your water for flavoring. This will save you tons of money on bottled drinks, and it’s better for the environment too!
As you can see, there are tons of easy swaps you can make at the grocery store to start cutting down your food spending. They may not all appeal to you, and that’s okay! Start with the swaps that feel reasonable for your family, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how quickly the savings add up.