You can save a lot of money on groceries by yourself. However, if you just try to do it all alone, then you aren’t mazimizing your efforts. On the other hand, if you combine your efforts with your community, then you can significantly increase your savings. It’s good for you. It’s good for everyone else. Moreover, it strengthens your community bonds.
Who is Your Grocery Community?
In order to save money on groceries by working with a community, you first need that community. Your grocery community might include:
- The entire household that you live with (such as roommates)
- Your immediate and extended family
- A select circle of friends who want to save money on groceries
- Your neighbors
- People in a group that meets regularly, such as a church group or a school group
You might have to do some groundwork to put together this community. However, as you start asking around, you’ll most likely find that a lot of people want to join in.
Save Money on Bulk Groceries By Buying Together
You can save a lot of money when you buy in bulk. However, if you don’t use everything before it goes bad, then you’re just wasting both food and money. Therefore, you need to have enough people to feed to be able to successfully buy in bulk. That’s where your community comes in. Take turns doing a bulk grocery store run once a week or once a month. Divide up the bulk items when you get home. Everyone splits the cost.
Similiary, you may want to go in with a group on a warehouse membership. If several of you shop at Costco, but you only go infrequently, then you don’t all need your own memberships. Instead, one person can get a membership. Everyone can chip in to pay for it. Then that person can do the shopping to save everyone in the group some money.
In the same vein, you might join a CSA and get fresh farm food delivered every week. It’s hard to use up all of that produce on your own. However, if you split the box with a few friends, then you all save money and get what you can use.
Host a Weekly Potluck Dinner and/or Food Prep Party
Don’t let any food in your kitchen go to waste. Once a week, gather it all up, and see what you can make out of it. Maybe you can make a great meal. Perhaps you can prep snacks for the week ahead. Maybe you need to dry or freeze some foods. Of course, youc can do this on your own to prevent food waste. However, if you do it with a group, then you get more for your efforts.
For example, you might host a “leftovers potluck” on Sundays. Everyone brings what they have and you make do for that meal. This is a great way to connect with friends and neighbors while reducing food waste. If there are enough leftovers, everyone can take something home for lunch the next day.
On the other hand, you might all get together to prep leftovers for long-term storage. This is a great time to swap foods with others. Everyone gets what they want without spending more money.
Lend or Borrow a Cup of Sugar
Back in the olden days people would stop next door to borrow an egg or a cup of sugar. These days, we just run to the grocery store. However, you can boost your own community connections by letting people know you’d love to lend what you have in these situations. If they reciprocate, then you may save money. After all, why buy a whole bag of sugar if you only need a cup? The more that communities can pool their resources, the less food waste we’ll have and the more money each person will save.
Grocery Shop for Those Who Can’t
One way for you personally to save some money is to grocery shop for others. If you need to go to the grocery store anyway, then it won’t cost you much extra time. You may offer to shop for an elderly neighbor, a friend who doesn’t have time because of work, or anyone in your area that needs that extra hand. Charge a small fee for your services and put that money towards your own grocery bill.
If You Need Help, Take It
If you truly don’t have money, then there are services to help you pay for groceries. Don’t be ashamed of checking out your local food bank. Get government assistance. Ask your community if they can give you extras that are about to expire, things that they would throw out anyway. It’s hard to ask for help, but you may discover that people are more than willing to pitch in.
- Affected by the Government Shutdown? How to Get Groceries
- How to Create a Community that Supports Your Frugality
- Bulk Buying for a Small Apartment
Editors note: If you want to to see how a family thrives while living frugally, consider reading Money Buffalo’s excellent article on Thriving Financially on $35,000 per year. Its an excellent piece worth reading on this topic.