Learn how to beat inflation at the grocery store with these old-fashioned methods that have been used throughout history.
We shop on a monthly basis, and I am shocked every time I go into the grocery store. Every month the prices seem to climb higher and higher. It’s no wonder many households are experiencing a pinch in the food budget every month. If we, who are producing a good amount of food here on our homestead are feeling a crunch, what is it like for the average American household? We have always been thoughtful of our grocery budget starting early on in our marriage…when we didn’t have much. These tips that we practice anyone can do. This is our best advice towards beating inflation in the grocery store.
Buy food in advance
Food, like most goods and services, is on a general incline as the years go on. So even though a particular product might go up and down individually, as a whole the market is currently and historically going up. Therefore being 6 months to 1 year ahead of the market means you are saving money automatically. If you are used to shopping on weekly basis, then you are only 1 week ahead of the inflated prices. If you have a large prepper pantry and shop less often, a natural savings will occur.
Stock up on sales
Another way to help curb inflation is to stock up on sales when you notice them. I know that butter is almost always cheaper during the Fall and Winter. I like to buy our years’ worth around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Additionally, ham, turkey, and roasts are also cheaper during this time of year.
Cabbage is cheaper right after St. Patrick’s Day, Chocolate after Valentine’s Day, condiments after Fourth of July, you get the picture! Thoughtful grocery shopping is like anything else and needs to be practiced in order to be improved upon. Learn and notice when prices are a steal and have the space ready to store them.
Utilize your freezer
This is huge! I don’t know how much money we have saved having freezer space on our homestead. But it is A LOT. I wrote an entire post dedicated to why a freezer is essential on the homestead. A freezer is a valuable money saving asset that helps beat inflation. The main ways that a freezer helps save money are:
- Freezer Meals
- Stock up on sales
- preserve the harvest
- Buy in bulk
- Less trips to the grocery store
Go grocery shopping less often
If you have never tried shopping on a less than one week basis, I urge you to try it. Start with just two weeks and see how you do. From there you can build up to 3 weeks, then one month. We have even experimented with how long we can live off of our supply and what we produce at home.
Going grocery shopping less often saves not only time and fuel towards going to the store. It also saves money. Getting creative with what is in the pantry is a skill set that is valuable for every homesteader. Creative cooking saves a lot more money than cooking just what sounds good on a whim. Reduce trips to the grocery store in order to save more money.
Work to develop personal home inventory
In order to take less trips to the store, it is required that you develop a home inventory list and system. Again, this is a skill set. Pantry management is something to practice and improve upon. It is active and living. Stocking up is not a one-time event. You can start developing your own home inventory by simply tracking what you are currently consuming.
I consider my home inventory to not only be food but also anything consumable (like shampoo, dental floss, first aid supplies, etc.) Study your habits to know what you will need if you cannot get to the store.
Track what and how much you currently eat
It isn’t hard to know what your household will need as part of your home inventory list. Start by recording what you consume for an entire month. I include food, soap, dental floss, toothpaste, toilet paper, drinks, and ANYTHING used by the members of your home, and write it down. Improving upon what is in your pantry can be done later. For now, just notice what you are currently using and make a large list. From there you can develop a rotating pantry.
Develop a rotating pantry system
A rotating pantry system is the only long-term food storage that we currently use. Some “prepper pantries” are just a large stockpile of food that is static. This is better than not having any in case of emergency food, but to me it is not ideal. Often times this food is not ordinarily food that is eaten by the members of the household, so it doesn’t easily make its way into meals that are frequently eaten. This can result in food waste because the food goes bad before it’s consumed.
Instead, we use a rotating pantry system which means I have a large pantry that I stock like a store does, older stuff to the front and newer stuff to the back. It means instead of having 1-2 bottles of mustard on hand, I might have 10-12. I keep a large inventory list, just like a store, to keep track of what I need to produce here on the homestead or buy from the store. I highly recommend this system it has saved money and provided peace of mind.
Be creative with food storage
You might be thinking…”I don’t have room for a large pantry!” We didn’t either. Our family of five used to live in an 800 square foot tiny house. We have always had a rotating pantry system. During that time of living in our tiny house, we got creative with where the “pantry” was. Get creative with where you can keep extra supplies. Under beds, closets, even unused bedrooms make great storage spaces.
Cook from scratch
Another big way we save money at the grocery store is to cook from scratch as much as we can. This saves so much money, by doing the preparation ourselves. I like to make homemade granola, granola bars, cookies, bread…everything I can from scratch to save money. Not only does this save money, but it also simplifies the rotating pantry. Instead of having all of these different varieties of snacks, you can simply have the base ingredients of oats, flour, chocolate chips on hand which can make numerous homemade products for your household.
Cook Simple Meals
This brings me to the third tip to help beat inflation at the grocery store, and that is to make simple meals. This in combination with cooking from scratch can really be effective at keeping your hard-earned cash in your pocket. By simple meals I mean, meals that don’t have tons of special ingredients. By choosing meals that have similar ingredients and that don’t use exotic spices and herbs, you can really save money. Soups and stews are another cost-effective way to save money at the grocery store.
Meal planning is essential here on our homestead. Every Sunday, I take my notepad and assess what needs to be used up and plan what simple meals I will make from the ingredients I already have on hand. If I notice we are out of something I write it on my big list that I take with me on my monthly grocery haul. Knowing what meals to make takes time and practice.
Know 30 “go to meals” and stick with those
Though I do like to experiment with new recipes, I use 30-40 tried-and-true recipes while I am working through our pantry. Having meals that you already know the family likes, and that you have the ingredients on hand helps to save money at the grocery store.
Start with what you already have
Instead of meal planning by starting with what you want to eat, then buying food, consider making meals from what you already have on hand. This helps stop you from buying anything unnecessarily, which wastes money.
Focus on producing food from your own property
If you haven’t set up infrastructure to start producing some food in your backyard, now is the time. These are the four main areas that we like to focus on:
- Annual Gardening (seasonal vegetables, some fruit)
- Eggs (chicken, duck, or quail)
- Meat (beef, chicken, lamb, pork, rabbit, fish and/or venison)
- Perennials (fruit trees, berry vines, grapes)
I wrote an entire post dedicated to ideas of what to have on a homestead if you want more information. Keep in mind that even producing just one of these categories at home can significantly cut food costs at the grocery store.
Make freezer meals
A freezer meal is a meal that you make from scratch ahead of time and put it in the freezer for an easy meal later. This can be done by dedicating an entire day to freezer meal cooking, or simply making a double batch of something while cooking dinner one night. The main way that freezer meals save money is the avoidance of eating out or grabbing some kind of convenience meal on nights that I we cannot cook or simply don’t feel like it! I love using freezer meals on nights that I am tired; I feel so prepared, efficient and economical!
Start freeze drying your own food
The last way that we save money is by utilizing our freeze dryer. This way of processing food extends the shelf life of food to up to 25 years! This is a great thing to do to avoid food waste. It also makes it easy to store food that we’ve produced on our homestead. When we get items on sale, we can use our freeze dryer to preserve that food. So, when the prices keep going up, we have a budget version of that same item safely sitting in our storehouse.