It’s no secret that I live in the middle of nowhere! The nearest grocery store is 15 miles away. Since it’s the only grocery store within a fairly large radius, their prices are pretty high. So what’s a rural gal to do? How do you save money on groceries in rural areas?
Not all of the advice works. I can’t just run to Aldi to find a bargain. But, there are still things I can do to save.
Here are seven of my best tips for cutting the grocery budget from the middle of nowhere.
But don’t worry, most of tips can also apply to people who aren’t quite as rural.
1. Head to the City
The big city for me is Spokane. As one of the largest cities in the state, you can imagine the grocery shopping options there are plentiful.
When we head in, we typically hit several stores to take advantage of sales. We don’t hit all of these each week, but here’s a peek at the stores we visit frequently:
- Cash & Carry
- Discount Grocery Stores
- Dollar Tree
and we hit any other stores that we may need.
Yes, it’s a long day! We’re usually tired by the time we get home. But, every month our house is full of food that I know we’ll eat and I get to stay out of the grocery store!
2. Take Advantage of Co-Ops with Drop Points Near You
When we aren’t traveling to present our ministry on the weekends, I really enjoy ordering produce with Bountiful Baskets. They used to have a drop point about twenty miles away, but that one unfortunately closed. Now, the closest one is in Spokane. But, it’s still worth it to me to drive there.
For $18 I can get a lovely selection of fruits and veggies. I typically buy two baskets for my large family. They also have great deals on other seasonal produce.
Produce isn’t the only thing I purchase this way. Since I got rid of my cows, I started buying the majority of my meat in bulk through The Savory Butcher. (If you use my link you get $5 off your first order!)
I like having ground beef, chicken thighs, and chicken breasts in the freezer. They also offer other meat like bacon and steak. Delicious!
3. Buy Local
Are there any farmer’s markets by you? What about orchards, pick your own patches, or farmers?
Find out what you can buy directly from the growers. When you buy local, you not only get really fresh goods, you cut out the middle man and often get a great price!
4. Grow & Raise Your Own Food
You can save on groceries in rural areas (or anywhere really) by growing some of your own food.
If you’re in the boonies and have more space, consider getting a milk cow. (Here’s my Busy Mom’s Guide to Owning a Milk Cow.)
Grow a few tomatoes or plant some fruit trees. Turn your raw milk into buttermilk.
Do a little bit more each year, and before you know it, you’ll be cutting your grocery costs simply by raising your own food. And this food tastes so much better than anything you can buy!
I’m really missing my livestock now, but still get to enjoy fruits from our trees and vines, and eggs from our chickens.
5. Order Items Online to Save Money on Groceries
Your time is valuable. So, if you can find a way to place your order online and then show up at the store and have everything bagged and ready to go…would you do it?
My Aunt Joanne has been telling me about Walmart’s Grocery Pickup for years. But since I was purchasing a month’s worth of goods at a time, I never wanted to use it. Now that I’m buying a lot less each time? I’m loving being able to add things to my cart, check the totals, and place my order.
I show up, they have my groceries ready. It saves so much time!
And money…because I can hammer out the budget before I pay. There’s no trying to calculate in my head or slip extra goodies in without adding them into the total cost.
Want to try this time and money saving method for yourself? You can get $10 off if you use my link.
Order Specialty Items
A small town isn’t the best place to purchase specialty items. Even if they carry them, you might discover the price is astronomical.
You can order these items online and get a better price. And get it delivered to your door. Then there’s no gas involved for you!
If you set up with Subscribe and Save on Amazon, you can even have them conveniently delivered every month or two. Sort of like shopping on auto-pilot! Just be sure to check prices occasionally, because Amazon isn’t always the cheapest.
I am an Amazon Prime member, as the shipping is amazing! If you aren’t you can get a 30 day free trial to see what you think. Two-day delivery to my home in the boonies is incredible…
6. Get Creative
When a trip to the store takes at least 30 minutes of driving round trip, you really start to evaluate what you really “need.”
You can substitute a lot in a recipe and still make good food. Think of it as being creative!
Out of hamburger? Use ground pork or ground rabbit.
No green peppers? Substitute some celery for crunch.
Once you get used to making substitutions based on what you have on hand, you’ll be able to avoid last minute grocery runs. And when you’re in the middle of nowhere, last minute grocery runs are never a good thing!
You can also go all out and do a pantry challenge, eating only food from your pantry for a while. When you don’t go to the store, you save money!
7. Make a Meal Plan
Without a plan, I’d stock up on groceries I never intend to use. I’d randomly buy ingredients because they were on sale, and they might spoil and get thrown out.
I wouldn’t plan for batch cooking or anything else in advance. And my grocery budget would skyrocket.
You have to have a plan for your meals! And your plan needs to include breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack. That way everyone is on the same page for all of the meals.
I always do an annual meal plan at this stage in life. It allows me to really stock up on what I’ll need–I’ve been known to buy a year’s worth of spaghetti before when it’s on sale. But, if you don’t want to plan that far in advance you don’t have to.
You can find plenty of resources to help you make a solid meal plan with the Healthy Meal Planning Bundle 2019 from Ultimate Bundles.
Other Ways to Save Money
Looking for other ways to save money? Here are two of my favorites:
Rakuten (formerly eBates) – Save money on things you’re already buying when you install Rakuten on your computer. I love the Firefox plugin. If there’s cash back available, it notifies me!
Swagbucks – You can get points for taking surveys, answering quick polls, searching the web through their browser, and shopping. Then you can trade the points into gift cards. I typically get Amazon gift cards, so I can use them to save money on the essentials I purchase.
How Do You Save Money on Groceries?
I’d love for you to share your tips in the comments section. Let’s save some money!
This post was originally published in September of 2016. It’s been updated and refreshed.