Five Money-Saving Tips From The Amish (Food & More)

Images: Don Burke

With inflation and the cost of things like food having gone up a ton in the past year or two, I decided to put together a few money-saving tips practiced by the Amish.

Three of these have to do with saving on food bills, and two of them are for general money-saving (tips & video below).

amish money slot flower stand

Are these completely revolutionary, reinventing-the-wheel ideas? Drumroll…no, they’re not.

But based on some of the YouTube commenters’ responses, there might be a couple things you hadn’t tried before. In a nutshell, here they are:

1. Shopping at Bent ‘n’ Dent stores

Also known as salvage stores, discount groceries, “banana box” stores. A great way to pay half-price or better, as long as you’re not too picky about damaged packaging or expiration dates.

2. Simple clothing

Image: Jim Halverson

Amish don’t spend a lot of time chasing fads or deciding what to wear each day. Simple, durable, long-lasting clothing saves money in more than one way.

3. Buying in bulk

Image: Jim Halverson

Amish buy in bulk both at bulk food stores (common in Amish communities) and at large supermarkets like Costco. Good for larger families of course – and for items that will keep for awhile.

4. Reusing & Repairing

Amish Shoe Repair Sales

Repairing things like shoes and a host of other home and work items, rather than discarding them, flies in the face of our “disposable” culture. But this can often be the more economical option.

5. Gardening & Canning

Nearly every Amish home has a garden of some size. Amish can not only veggies, but fruits – and even meat. A great way to cut down on the cost of produce – and a good family activity to boot.

Image: Cindy Seigle

I go into greater detail on each in the video. Would be happy to hear any additional ideas you might have as far as money-saving ideas practiced by the Amish. Runtime: 5:49.

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    9 Comments

    1. Al Cantwell

      Bulk buying

      I definitely see the advantages of buying in bulk, but the apartment we live in just doesn’t have the space for storing bulk goods, ditto canning, which I have often wanted to do, but we just don’t have the room. Amish houses and sheds and cellars allow for storage, but we urbanites are limited. I agree there is a lot we non Amish can learn and apply from our Plain friends.

      1. Response to bulk buying

        I don’t live rurally but I do know how to do make a lot of room for for some bulk food purchases which I have learned – learn to do with less – don’t need 20 different appliances to do what a stove and oven can do that includes using a stove top coffee perculator rather than a drip or single cup espresso/cappa/joe system, learn to use a dehydrator and a food mandolin because that dehydrated food can be put into air tight jars or food seal packages to be rehdryated and used later for all sorts of meals. Cook from scratch – convenience foods are not worth the expense. There are small survival food packages that can be purchased and stored fairly easily in an apartment how – those upper shelves above the clothing poles put them there, don’t need more clothes than what you can wear in 1 week for any purpose, no stuffing, no tripple and quad purchases of same items. No eating out, eat in, do picnics, food rotation, learn new recipes, have friends over to eat, it can be done. I also co-op with family and friends for bulk purchasing so we share the cost and keep it lower by sharing goods bought. I also make portioned sized meat, poultry, fish, etc. cuts – no need for big bulky freezer stuff or precooked heat in the micro stuff. Just what is needed for the meals 2 or 3 is enough, cut out the bad snacks stuffed that many family stuff and there will be room, cut out the soda pops and learn to drink water or flavored water. Learn to keep the lights off when not needed and use the sunlight. Use laundry systems or dishwashers only when it’s the lower cost of electric time to run. Learn to resuse bottles and containers to hold items in like leftovers or cut up fresh veggies that need cold water. My fridge is not filled with junk foods, I have basic foods in there that are rotated and used up before they go bad, I have learned to enjoy simple things like long walks, going to the park and packing a morning breakfast or lunch including a beverage, not having a bunch of gadgets for cleaning the floors or rugs – they take up room, don’t need bunches of towels or sheet sets and blankets a simple low basic amount will do. Don’t need bottles and bottles of supplements to take that cost high dollars – just a real good vitamin and mineral tab plus a pro digestive aid should do well and no stacking up lots of otr pain meds, alot go bad before getting used up, learn to use other methods to deal with pain like breath work, stretching, regular exercise, simple massage. There are a lot of ways to work at being frugal, I know by experience less is more….. see what ways you can pare down on “stuff” you just don’t need that’s why even people with houses have storage facilities to store their “stuff” in because of no room why? Cant take it with you and it will be forgotten in a few months – let it go. If you take your food plate because you watch tv at the same time and don’t use the kitchen or dining table, why have it, turn that area into something useful like shelves on stands that can store needed and necessary items. Folding tables and folding chairs can be used in a living room to set up for eating if necessary provided it is not overcrowed with oversized or too much furniture. Think spartan, minimal, just the basics. Learn to donate items on a regular basis to local thrift stores or hold community garage sales to make some money and give up stuff not used. It is a mindset of being a good steward of financial matters so that if there is real need, like with a family crisis, it can be there to help temporarily.

      2. Philip Wheeler

        I realize urban living is terrible. (Getting to the country should be a priority to anyone who is able. Seriously if at all possible seek a way out!)

        However one can get creative. Example that comes to mind is I had a purple mattress bed frame it was higher than normal and I could put cases of food under it. (Or get rid of the frame entirely and sleep directly on your food supply though than rotating becomes more of a chore and depending on mattress/ back.. might be uncomfortable.

        But there are ways to be creative. I’d recommend taking it to the Lord in prayer than seeing if you can find inspiration for space/money saving ways to be able to do bulk.

        Hording makes you a target. But six months rotating rations is a smart way to live. Start slowly build up & maintain.

    2. George

      Living frugal

      Living frugal has always been a pleasant challenge for me, yet i do not live thrifty to the point that it hurts. The children have summer clothes and winter clothes and enough blankets to be warm in the winter. I allow for a weekly snack day of chips and dip. Our meals are home cooked, basic and nutritious. I do wish to learn canning, but find the starter-up cost to be expensive and unnecessary without a veggie garden. I appreciate articles that give new ideas for budgeting and being frugal while enjoying a occasional splurge. Great job, Eric

    3. Darlene

      Amish life

      Amazing people.

    4. Peter Brandt-Sørheim

      Shoes

      I found just the right shoes for dress and work, buy multiples when on sale: all the same color/size/design. If a shoe is damaged a twin replaces it. Well worn shoes are gradually demoted from best to gardening.

    5. Connie Jacobs

      New discount store in Middletown, Missouri

      Hello Eric! There’s a new discount store in Middletown,MO. They have some very good bargains. The store is very clean, well organized and the staff are more than friendly. Prices are pretty good too. For example: 15# smoked bacon for $27 and cheese for $2 a pound. One gallon of raw honey for $42. Hilty’s Bee Yards and Discount Foods. 608 State Hwy A. Middletown, MO. 573-470-7757. They are still listed in Bowling Green,MO but moved from there and opened this store in July, 2023. There are 13 families currently in Middletown that broke away from Bowling Green. Just down the street about 1 mile is Hilltop Variety Store. Also a very nice store. maybe you can visit them one day!!

      1. Erik Wesner

        Thanks for sharing this Connie, sounds great!

    6. Kerry Denison

      Was a everyday life for me.

      Being born and raised in the Appalachians in North Georgia these tips are like coming home to the real world of a teenager in the late forties and fifties. No mention of making other corn products and hunting and fishing.