Saving money on food is very possible and it only really takes a little work and a slight change in attitude. If you have devoted yourself to getting your finances in order, it should not be an issue for you. Here are some tips to help you slash your food budget. Start saving money ASAP and also create less waste.
Start Meal Planning
If you do not plan out your meals for the week, you are probably wasting a lot of money when you grocery shop. How do you know what to buy if you do not know what food you are making?
Meal planning will allow you to buy exactly what you need for the week without waste. It will also take much of the stress out of your week since your agenda will be all drawn out.
The day before you go to the grocery store, plan out your meals for the next seven days. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and even snacks. Write out the list of foods that you need and then check your pantry. Cross off anything that you already have to eliminate duplicates and waste.
Limit Fresh Produce
This is not to say that you should not eat fresh produce, just limit how much you buy at once. Buy too much and it will simply go bad before you eat it. Buy no more than a weeks worth of produce at a time and store it properly. Some produce is best in the refrigerator while other types will do better in a dark pantry.
When determining how much produce to buy, also be honest. You might love strawberries, but are you really sure that you and your family will eat three pounds of them in a week. It is better to under estimate how much you need than to over estimate it.
Finally, when you do buy your produce, buy it at the right place. Find a farmers market and shop direct from the grower. You will get fresher produce without the grocers markup.
Learn To Cook
If you really want to save money, you need to cut out prep costs and that means learning how to cook. Honestly, it is not that hard, just start slow. Simply baking a chicken breast in the oven with a little salt and pepper will get you started. Hint: brine the chicken in salt water for 30 minutes before cooking to keep it moist in the oven. From there, you can start expanding your menu choices. Be brave.
Learning to cook can save you an easy 50 percent over pre-packaged frozen meals. In addition, your food will taste better and be healthier.
Save Your Leftovers
There is absolutely no reason to throw out most leftovers. Make use of them and save money while being more environmentally responsible.
Saved leftovers, even single portions have value. Freeze them and once every week or two weeks, have a leftover night where you thaw 2 or 3 different meals. Everyone can have their favorite.
Meals can also be repurposed. A leftover chicken breast can be diced and made into chicken tacos. An extra burger patty can be crumbled for the meat in spaghetti sauce. Meals can also simply be wrapped and used as lunch the next day.
Stop Dining Out
I love to go out to dinner as much as the next person, but it is very wasteful. A family of four can easily spend 60 to 100 dollars on a meal that could have been made at home for around 20 dollars or less.
If you dine out often, you need to dial it back if saving is your goal. If you dine out 2 to 3 times a week, you could be wasting 200 dollars or more.
When you do go out, be sure to follow some rules to keep it from totally wrecking your budget. Sign up for restaurant eClubs to get money saving coupons. Also, skip the soda and alcoholic drinks and go with water instead. With soda averaging 3 dollars a glass, it has a huge profit margin for the restaurant. Alcohol is even worse.
Lastly, keep in mind that most restaurant meals are huge and well beyond the calories needed by the average adult. Instead of ordering two entrees, consider splitting one or splitting an appetizer and an entree.
Buy Generic Food
Do not be a slave to the label, it can cost you big. Save as much as 30 percent on products by buying the generic store version.
What you have to realize is that these stores are not making these products themselves. Many of them are being made by the same manufacturers that are selling you the premium label stuff. Don’t believe me? Next time you hear about a food product recall, notice that they list a major label brand plus a litany of store brands. It is because they were all made by the same people.
Purchase Non Perishables In Bulk
If you do not have a discount club membership, you need to get one. You can save so much money on your non perishable items. Purchase things like canned goods, spices, snacks, pasta, rice and dry beans in bulk and save. Store them properly and they will last forever.
Not everything should be purchased in bulk though. If it can spoil within a week or two, it is probably not a good idea to buy unless you can freeze it. In addition, meat, although fairly priced at warehouse stores, can often be purchased cheaper at a local grocery store. Local stores will heavily discount meat to get you to come to the store. Your selection will be limited so you have to buy what is on sale at the time and freeze it.
Stop Having Food Delivered
Delivery is expensive in many ways.
First, you have the delivery cost which can be 4 to 5 dollars or more. Then you have to tip the driver. So, ordering food in could cost you as much as 10 dollars just for the convenience.
Next, you have the cost of the food itself. For a family of four, you could spend 40 dollars or more on delivered meals. Add that to the delivery cost and you could be looking at 60 bucks just because you didn’t want to cook.
If you meal plan, you will be prepared to cook every night so that you can avoid this situation. Cook for 10 to 20 dollars what it would have cost 60 dollars to order in.
Your food budget is one of the easiest to slash in order to save money. Take your $500 budget and make it a $300 one with little effort. This does not mean that you have to eat only PB&J’s for the rest of your life. You can still eat well if you are responsible and take the time to do it right. Stop wasting food and paying for convenience.