Food is great, right? I just love how when you eat it, you don’t die of hunger. That’s pretty awesome of food. Less awesome though, is the fact that you need to constantly spend money on it indefinitely. Then, it sometimes goes bad before you even get a chance to EAT IT! You might as well be throwing dollar bills in the garbage can. That’s why I’ve written this list of three main ways to save money on groceries that I use myself.
Cook With an Instant Pot
Brew Your Own Coffee
Grow Your Own Food in Spare Spaces
1) Use an Instant Pot to Cook Large Batches
I know what you must be thinking, “How could buying ANOTHER expensive pot save me money? I don’t even use 3 of the pots I have now, and the other one is just for mac and cheese!”
So, why is this Item 1 on my list? That’s because it addresses both of the main concerns I brought up in the first paragraph. (Before I get into that, for those who don’t know, an Instant Pot is a large pot that you plug into the wall that heats itself up and pressure cooks your food, preparing it much faster than a pan or oven.)
How does this save money? It’s simple: the foods you generally cook in an Instant Pot tend to be a lot less expensive. Things like fresh/frozen meat or potatoes or vegetables are a lot easier to buy in larger volumes at a per-pound price. This is especially true when compared to frozen/pre-made meals, or anything that is sold for it’s convenience factor.
Then, when it’s cooked, these keep well in the refrigerator and are a quick easy meal to heat up in the microwave. Also, you can keep the meat frozen until you’re ready to put it in, it’ll just take a bit longer to cook (I just put 3 lbs of frozen chicken in mine before writing this). This takes care of the problem of your food going bad too soon. Plus, it will save you time and effort in the kitchen and that’s extra time to make more money!
If you’re curious about the types of meals you can do in an Instant Pot, just google a meal with the words “instant pot recipe” and you’ll probably find one for it. (It should be noted that there are other brands of wall-plug pressure cookers and any of them should do just fine, Instant Pot is just the accepted catch-all name for that type of cooker when searching online for recipes.)
2) Brew Your Own Coffee
This one should be obvious, but there are a lot of people that overlook it, largely due to the convenience of having someone else quickly pour you a coffee on your way to work. However, this one can be a total budget blower. I first heard this expressed as the latte factor, which is basically: if you spend $5 every day on coffee, that’s a lot of unnecessary money gone.
Imagine you bought one $5 coffee on your way to work every workday. on a Monday-Friday work week, that’s five days a week multiplied by about 4 weeks a month. $5 x 5(days a week) x 4(weeks a month) = $100. And, that’s assuming you only pay $5 for your coffee, most coffee shops tend to be more these days (and assuming you didn’t buy any of the overpriced baked goods most coffee shops have, which always seem to look way better than they actually taste). This may not seem like a lot to some people, but that’s money that could easily be saved. (Side note: obviously giving up coffee would be the most economical approach, but FORGET THAT NOISE!)
I get a couple of weeks worth of coffee for about $6 plus about $2 a week on cream or milk, for a total of ~$20 a month. That’s $80 a month that I’m not flushing down the toilet! (somewhat literally) The savings add up to close to $1,000 annually, more if you consider the fact that I never just have one cup of coffee.
However, most people don’t enjoy boring old coffee that they make themselves, but I have a few ways to keep it interesting (and delicious). First off, I almost exclusively make cold brew. I do that for three main reasons.
1) It has a richer flavor 2) It’s pleasant year-round 3) Cold-brew is more efficient due to the fact that it has, on average, FOUR TIMES AS MUCH CAFFEINE!
It’s super easy to make too, it’s just a 1:3 ratio of ground coffee to water, or one cup of coffee, to three cups of cold water. Then you put it in your fridge for 12-24 hours before straining it and voilà cold brew! You can save a lot more money if you buy big cans of finely ground coffee since coarse ground coffee is usually more expensive. You may also want to invest in a metal strainer for it to run through because holding a large jar and waiting for it to drip out can be maddeningly tedious.
Another tip, whether you’re doing cold or hot brew, is to experiment with adding spices to the coffee grounds. You can turn a decent cup of coffee into a work of art with a few pinches of cinnamon. This can keep it fresh if you find yourself missing the different flavors at your favorite coffee shop.
3) Grow Your Own Food
This is absolutely the highest yielding idea on the list. The best part is you don’t even have to have a lot (or any) yard space to do this. There are quite a few plants that do well indoors and don’t take up too much space, such as tomatoes, various herbs, salad greens, and more! You could even grow your own mushrooms like portabella or oysters, all you need is spores and some easy to make equipment (If you went with the Instant Pot tip, you could use this to sterilize the growth medium). They also grow from quite a few different, cost-effective substrates including popcorn kernels, cardboard, and rice flour. Be sure to collect seeds/spores when you harvest, then you can keep saving money from your initial investment. This could even turn into a fun side hustle if you sold some of the extras at your local farmers market!
I hope you will enjoy these ways to save money on groceries as much as I enjoy using them. Sometimes the best way to save money is sitting right under your nose (on your plate). Bank Appétit!