Groceries can get expensive. The average family of four spends almost $7,000 on food every single year, and that number is steadily growing. Now, we can blame inflation and also the rise in new diets and extreme restrictions. But, there are also the issues of eating out too often, food waste, and more. If you’re looking to cut your grocery bill in half, and not spend so much money on food and eating out, keep reading.
Food Challenges That Can Cut Your Grocery Bill In Half
So…food challenges can help you save money? Yup. Absolutely. I know you’re curious – I was too. Read on, implement the challenges, and save some moolah!!
1) Slow Cooker Challenge
I’ve done this challenge quite a few times throughout the years, and it’s the best way to cut your grocery bill in half when you’re busy but want a home-cooked meal. When I became a new mom, who was also in school and working full-time, I knew that I wouldn’t have the time to slave over a stove for 30 minutes to an hour every single day.
So, I turned to my trusty slow cooker…
At the time, Pinterest was really starting to take off, so I started looking for slow cooker recipes that were quick and easy to prepare. I found tons of recipes, from soups to lasagna. I even found a recipe for slow cooker bread, which turned out amazing!
In the mornings before going to work, I would dump all of my ingredients in the slow cooker, set it on low, and get going. As soon as I got home, I would turn it on warm and it was ready for dinner time. It saved me so much time (and money) because I was able to have food on the table without grabbing fast food or ordering in. And, we wasted the least amount of food during these challenges, because everything got thrown into one pot!
If you’re going to do this challenge, I would suggest:
- Using a slow cooker that has an auto shut off feature, or cook your food on low (just in case it has to run longer than you expect it to).
- Buy a bigger slow cooker so you can meal prep larger meals and freeze the leftovers or eat them throughout the week.
2) Instant Pot Challenge
When I first saw the Instant Pot, I was nervous to use it. How could one gadget do SO many things? But since I love cooking at home, my husband thought it would be a great gift for me. And he was right.
Since getting my Instant Pot, I’ve made hundreds of things.
- Yogurt (I can finally make vegan yogurt and not pay a fortune at the grocery store!),
- homemade veggie broth, and
- homemade canned beans
These are just a few things I make on a regular basis. I’ve even made baked potatoes in it.
And it’s a powerhouse. I can usually make beans from dried beans in 30 minutes or less. Even my slow cooker can’t do that. I would recommend the Instant Pot to just about anyone, but especially people who love making things from scratch and just don’t have the time.
And if you’re a meat-eater, you can make a whole rotisserie-style chicken in less than an hour. Yes, you read that right. An hour.
So how does the Instant Pot save you so much money?
It can do so much that there are a ton of things you won’t have to buy out of convenience. For example, beans. Canned will run you about $1-$1.99 if you purchase organic. Instead, I can buy organic dried beans for under $1.50 for a whole pound. Which means I’m getting about three cans of beans for less than one can at the store!
It’s also great for the busy professional or parent that wants to cook wholesome and nutritious meals but doesn’t have the time. Most things are set and forget it, and take 30 minutes or less. So you can have dinner on the table without a fuss.
Now hear me out on this. I’m not going to push my beliefs on you just because I’m a vegan (How do you know a vegan is in the room? They’ll tell you! HA!). But, there are quite a few studies (all peer-reviewed by the way) that state having meatless meals can be beneficial to both your health, your wallet, and the environment. So it’s a win-win-win situation for everyone.
And no, this does not mean that you have to go on a vegan challenge or give up meat entirely. But, not eating meat at least one day a week could potentially save you a boatload of money.
If you’re thinking “this is totally not for me”, here are a few of my husband’s favorite meatless meals (and he’s a meat and potatoes kind of guy):
- Chickpea Salad
- Loaded Thai Curry (this is also Instant Pot friendly!)
- Beyond Meat Burgers (loaded with his favorite veggies and he builds it Big Mac style)
- Cajun Chickpea Cakes (We add a LOT more spice, but feel free to do what’s best for you)
4) Clean Out The Pantry Challenge
This is the ultimate cut your grocery bill in half challenge. And I would assume that anyone who has tried to cut their grocery budget has tried this challenge at least once in their life. Basically, the clean out the pantry challenge is exactly what it sounds like.
- You eat from your pantry, fridge, and freezer, and
- try to make meals from ONLY those foods that you have.
- Think about this as preparation for the show Chopped. You have to put a bunch of random ingredients together to make a meal. 🙂
Shopping from your pantry not only saves you money, but it also means less food waste, which is a huge problem in America right now. Again, I’m not going to judge you, but I know that for me, I don’t want to waste perfectly good food. So even for myself, I typically do this challenge a few times a year when I know our pantry and fridge are getting too full. We’re blessed to not have empty cabinets, so we need to use what we have.
Here is how to have a successful pantry challenge:
- Shop from your fridge and pantry first. What can you use up? What’s expiring soon?
- Look up recipes via Google and Pinterest or add what you have into an app like Supercook for ideas to best utilize the ingredients you have.
- If you have to shop, buy the smallest amount you can get away with. Set yourself up with a budget so you don’t overspend on items that you need.
- Get creative! Bake, meal prep, make lots of soups, make homemade snacks with what you have. This challenge is supposed to be fun, but also save you a ton of money.
Cut Your Grocery Bill In Half With These Challenges
As someone who loves to cook, but doesn’t like wasting money, these challenges have been great at…
- giving me recipe ideas,
- saving me time, and
- keeping more money in my wallet.
My family of 3 is able to eat on $300-$400 a month, and we rarely have food waste. These challenges are a great way to cut your grocery bill in half, and still keep your belly full!
Are you ready to pull the trigger on one of the challenges above? Tell us about it in the comments below!
AUTHOR Kimberly Studdard
Kim Studdard is a project manager for online entrepreneurs and small businesses. When she isn't spending time with her daughter and husband, or reading her growing pile of horror books, you'll find her working on her HR degree and working towards FIRE.