5 Ways to Save on Your Food Costs This Summer

by Alexa Mason · 15 comments

Summer time. The kids are out of school; baseball games, soccer practices, and swimming lessons are in full swing. The weather warms up, and your focus moves to fun.

The only downfall? The busyness of the summer months usually equates to blown budgets. After all, who wants to be cooking in a hot kitchen or poring over their budget when they could be outside soaking up the sun?

Not me.

When it comes to budgets, mine is often blown by food. To be specific: eating out way more than I should.

But with some fierce determination, I decided I was going to nix this habit — and I haven’t eaten out for the entire month of June. So far, I’m spending about half as much on food as I normally do!

Summer Food: How to Save Time & Money

1. Choose simple meals

It’s hot outside. In fact, it was right around 90 degrees today, and my air conditioner is in overdrive. The last thing I want to do is make my house even hotter by taking the time to cook elegant meals on the stove.

Instead, I’ve been cooking simple meals like salads and sandwiches. Easy peasy!

2. Prepare things in advance

In the past, this was one of my major pitfalls. Since I wouldn’t have all the ingredients I needed to make a meal, I’d either run to the store and buy a lot more than what I’d intended, or I’d go through the drive-thru at a fast food joint. Neither were good options.

For the month of June, I’ve made it a point to make advance preparations. When shopping, I take a list of the meals my family eats the most and buy enough stuff to make it through a week or two. By doing this, I eliminate impulse purchases and can match up the best deals with what we’ll be eating that week.

You could also make a detailed menu plan, but my family does better with just a few options each day. That way, I can make whatever I feel like making.

3. Use your crockpot

Nobody wants to heat up an already warm house, so many people hate turning on the stove in the summer time. Enter the crockpot.

There are countless crockpot recipes that are both cheap and easy. Plus, the crockpot will save you a ton of time. Just set it and forget it!

4. Grill out

Although I love crockpot cooking, my go-to tool this summer has been the grill. Grilled food tastes delicious and cooks relatively fast. As a bonus, it’s also healthy!

5. Enjoy lots of fruits & veggies

As far as snacks and sides go, I’ve saved myself a lot of time by using fruits and vegetables. Instead of cooking macaroni and cheese, rice, or potatoes as a side, I simply put carrots, sliced apples, bell peppers, or cherry tomatoes on the plate.

This has helped my family eat a lot healthier — and my kids love it!


I know it’s tempting to run through the drive-thru on a busy day. (And it’s perfectly fine to do so on occasion.)

But if you’re really wanting to save on your food budget this month, try some of these suggestions. Take it from me: a little planning can equate to a ton of savings and a healthier diet!

How do you reduce your food budget in the summer months?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Argie says:

    As I’m reading this post via an email that just arrived today, it is February and 32 below here! Kinda nice to be reminded of cooking out and camping in the back yard as the wind is howling and shaking my house. Summer is a dream at this point, but it will come!

  • Dorethia says:

    Summer is a tough time on the food budget. I do find myself eating out more because I am generally… well.. out more! LOL. I did make a commitment (and have stuck to it) to cook more and keep quick things nearby that I can grab on the go.

  • Deb @ Saving the Crumbs says:

    By the way, food costs add up in the summer, but so do air conditioning bills! We all might be able to save even more in that expense than a few of these cooking ideas added up! Of course, it’s harder in some parts of the country than others, but we find if we open the windows at night and run the fan in the windows in the evening and morning, the house stays comfortable enough for us even when it gets up to 90 here in TN!

  • Karen K says:

    I have a few more ideas. The long weekend is coming up, so the parks are crowded and noisy, not to mention stressful. When my children were small, we used to put up a tent in the back yard or even in their room. If the weather was good, we would “camp” outside and cook on the fire pit. This was good for small children. If they got cold or scared, they could always go inside.

    It saved the cost of driving to a crowded place to find out that your kids weren’t campers. They liked the “cooking on the fire pit” though and I can still be found out in the back cooking sausages in the cast iron pot or popping popcorn in foil.

    Make sure to find out the laws in your area and to clean the pit and grill to avoid attracting some unwanted furry creatures.

    • David @ MoneyNing.com says:

      Awesome idea. I suspect my older one (4 now) is still a bit too young for camps so I will have to copy that one Karen!

  • Brenda @SuperMoney says:

    Great post Alexa!

    I just saved a bunch of money on fruits and vegetables by skipping the grocery store! In my experience at weekend farmers markets, it’s cheaper to just go to the closest grocery store and buy produce. But I have a favorite open-air market that sells local, quality produce as super low prices. 10 cent bananas, 25ct avocados… I can get a full week of produce for no more than $10.

    A good tip would be to find places like that near you and compare prices. You might not want to brave the traffic to get to those popular Saturday markets, but you might be surprised to find a local store that beats the chains all week long.

    • David @ MoneyNing.com says:

      I keep hearing about these farmer’s markets that sell produce for cheap, but our experiences around here is that everything sold there is always (though higher quality) more expensive.

      My wife still goes there once in a while because the stuff is fresher, but hopefully the savings will come with the lower overall health costs!

  • The Wallet Doctor says:

    The heat is such an easy excuse to eat out. I try to keep the fixings for sandwiches around. That way if it is too hot to face the stove, we can all have a quick sandwich for dinner.

    • David @ MoneyNing.com says:

      I hear ya. Sometimes it’s worst with a bit of wind since the smoke will often be blown into my face. Maybe get a big umbrella? Blocks the direct sun beams and it’ll probably block the wind too if it’s placed right.

  • Michelle says:

    I’m really excited to start grilling this summer. We haven’t done it at our home yet this summer, but I want to this weekend!

    • David @ MoneyNing.com says:

      Have fun! Grilling is great because for some reason the meat is so much more tender. And it’s so easy even an awful cook like me can make food taste good!

  • Aldo @ Million Dollar Ninja says:

    We love our crockpot! We usually set it at night and wake up with our house smelling like lunch. We bring lunch to work for the most part and the crockpot helps us with that.

    If you don’t have a crockpot, get one a.s.a.p! It makes cooking so much easier. We don’t use it every day, but we pull it out every other week or so.

    • David @ MoneyNing.com says:

      Funny you mention the smell Aldo, because my wife loves cooking but can’t stand the smell afterward.

      On the other hand, I love the smell but I don’t like cooking haha!

  • John @ Wise Dollar says:

    We do a lot of these things in our family, especially the grilling and doing things in advance. Where we really cut down though is through gardening. My wife gardens quite a bit and I’m thankful to reap the rewards. It cuts our produce spending to next to nothing, save for fruit, in the summer and we freeze a good bit of it as well so we can enjoy it in the fall and winter.

    • David @ MoneyNing.com says:

      The best part about gardening is that you KNOW it’s fresh, and grown with absolutely no harmful chemicals.

      And your wife gets to enjoy the time spent caring for the plants too. A true win / win!

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