How to Cut Food Costs as a Retiree

Whether self-funded or dependent upon a government pension, most retirees find that money is somewhat restricted. What’s more, food prices seem to be constantly on the rise. Short of going on a permanent fast (which could tend to make your retirement rather short) what can you do? Here are a few ideas to stretch the pennies and still eat well.

1. Grow whatever you can. You may not have much room for a garden, but you can always grow a few vegetables in pots. If you have enough space, you could even go for a miniature fruit tree or two. These days you can buy grafted trees with several related kinds on the one tree. Talk to your local plant nursery and find out what is available. If you grow more than you can use, barter the excess with friends for something else you may need.

Don’t forget that “grow your own” can include things like bean sprouts, which can be grown in bottles and are very quickly ready for harvest, and mushrooms which are happiest hidden in a dark corner under your house.

2. If you live near a suitable waterway, go fishing. Again, if you catch more than you can use yourself, don’t throw it back. Barter.

3. Many retirees live alone, and buying in bulk is not practical for them. However, if you form a co-operative with a group of friends, you can still cash in on bulk savings.

4. If you live close enough to a farming area to get there without it costing a fortune in fuel, go direct to the farmers. They will often be happy to sell to you at a price considerably lower than that in the supermarkets.

5. Make your own. Breads, cakes, sauces, jams etc are often cheaper to make yourself – and you have the added bonus of knowing what is actually in them! Again, home-baked goodies are often good to barter for things you are not able to produce yourself.

6. Visit the supermarket just before closing time. Often there will be items marked down to clear.

7. Buy fruit and vegetables by the case and freeze or preserve them. If you have a large enough freezer, buy meat by the side or half-side and freeze it.

8. Find a baker or supermarket that sells day-old bread cheaply. Freeze it as soon as you get home, and there will be little difference from what you would have bought fresh.

9. Buy cheaper cuts of meat and use slow cooking methods to make them tender.

10. Look for less expensive alternatives. Commercial cereals can be expensive, for example, but good old rolled oats are much cheaper and much better for you.