Every time we’ve moved, we’ve had to throw out or give away so much of our pantry and freezer stock. Whatever isn’t able to be eaten before the move, out it goes. The food waste is sad and the waste of money hurts, especially when you’re watching every penny.
When you get to your next place, you end up having to restock all of the things that you’ve thrown away. It gets pricey and the numbers really pinch on that first trip at your new duty station. To try to help, I’ve compiled a number of ways that you can save money to get food back into your cabinets.
1. Get a kit from Whole Foods
Blue Star Families and Whole Foods have teamed up to provide Pantry Starter Kits chock full of the basics that you always need– mustard, ketchup, cooking spray, mayo, peanut butter, and jelly. There will also be coupons for saving extra money on your next trip to Whole Foods. Depending on the store, you might also find a few other goodies in the bag. Right now, the program is regional; not all Whole Foods are participating. To find out if the one close to you is, complete this form. Within 24-48 hours, you should receive an email with a confirmation if you live close to a participating store. Just take the confirmation email and your military ID to customer service and pick up your Pantry Starter Kit.
2. Get money back… without coupons
I absolutely hate coupons, which is why I love Ibotta. Ibotta is a cash back app that you can use at most grocery stores… including the commissary! The app lets you know what rebates are available on what brands of food. And this is regardless of the coupons or sales that you shop, which means more money in your pocket. And it’s real money– you don’t have to accumulate a gazillion points to get a free lollipop. (Ibotta works at a ton of stores and shops, not just the grocery store… but we’re talking about replenishing your pantry cheaply here!) After accumulating at least $20 in rebates, you can cash out through PayPal or Venmo, or you can choose to get gift cards from retailers like Starbucks, Amazon, and Target. Sign up today and get an extra $10, so you’re already halfway to your rebate.
3. Scout the farmer’s markets
Farmer’s markets can be a little pricey initially, but there are also ways to save on quality produce, meats, eggs, and shelf-stable items. Here’s how I’ve saved on farmer’s markets while still getting healthy, local food.
4. Get delivery
Prime Pantry through Amazon offers a bunch of different ways to make grocery shopping a little cheaper. Use built-in coupons, purchase items in multiples, and use the deals button to save. You can also save on Amazon through Ibotta. Occasionally, Amazon also offers credits to Prime Pantry as an exchange for not using 2-day shipping or offers free shipping depending on what you buy. And, for some people, because you’re choosing exactly what your buying, there’s no chance of wrecking your budget by buying things that look great in the grocery store but weren’t on your list.
5. Ask for a discount
Some grocery stores in areas with a lot of military folks offer military discounts. In Virginia Beach, our local Farm Fresh offered 10% off on Tuesdays (if I remember correctly). That discount meant a lot to us in the first few months of our marriage when I didn’t have a job… and it made it worth it for us to go there rather than drive to the commissary, which was much further away. If the discount isn’t advertised, ask your local grocery store if there is a discount and what the deets are– that way you can be be prepared to shop on the right day.
6. Go bulk
BJ’s Wholesale, Sam’s Club, and Costco all offer reduced memberships to military families. Take your military ID and check out their customer service stations to get the deals they’re currently offering service members. With your reduced-cost membership, you’ll be able to save even more on bulk products… and you’ll fill your pantry in no time.